Charles Spurgeon was riding in a carriage with his American friend William Hatcher.
As they approached his orphanage, Spurgeon pointed out the window and said, “Yonder is my bank, where I get my money for taking care of my family of 500 children.”
Hatcher looked but saw no bank.
“There it is,” said Spurgeon, pointing to a plaque.
The words on the plaque read: “Jehovah Jireh” (the Lord will provide).
“That is my bank,” said Spurgeon. “It never breaks, never suspends, never gets empty. My children have never lacked for covering, or for food and I have no fear that they ever will” (Hatcher, Along the Trail of the Friendly Years, 249).
Spurgeon was first inspired to build his orphanage after visiting George Müller in 1855. “I never heard such a sermon in my life as I saw there,” Spurgeon said (NPSP 1:378).
When asked to say a few words after Müller’s sermon, Spurgeon couldn’t because he had “been crying all the while” (Autobiography 3:167).
Spurgeon later reflected:
“Simply by asking of God in his way, [Müller] has raised (I believe) £17,000 towards the erection of a new orphan-house. When I consider that, I sometimes think we will try the power of faith here, and see if we should not get sufficient funds whereby to erect a place to hold the people that crowd to hear the Word of God. Then we may have a tabernacle of faith as well as an orphan-house of faith. God send us that, and to him be all the glory” (NPSP 1:378).
God did send him that. Approximately eleven years later, a donation of £20,000 was given by Mrs. Hillyard, the widow of an Anglican clergyman. She was not alone. People came out of the woodwork to financially support Spurgeon’s orphanage and other urban ministries.
“The support of the College is derived from the free-will offerings of the Lord’s people. We have no roll of subscribers, although many friends send us aid at regular intervals” (Lectures 1:vii).
Here’s the underlying attitude running beneath Spurgeon’s financial faithfulness:
Spurgeon’s aim was not to get money but to give money. The more generous he was, the more God gave him to be generous with. The more open his hand, the more God filled it. And fill it he did. Spurgeon died poor because he realized his wealth was not his own.
“God has a way of giving by the cartloads to those who give away by shovelfuls” (MTP 56:451).
Yet, with the large amounts of cash flowing through his fingers, Spurgeon saw and felt the temptations of wealth. Here are a few quotes pulled from the preacher’s own wallet about the dangers of money.
1. “The more money he has, the more troubles he will have.”
“It is very difficult for a man to have much money running through his hands without some of it sticking. It is very sticky stuff; and when it once sticks to the hands, they are not clean in the sight of the Lord. Unless a man is able to use money without abusing it, accepting it as a talent lent to him, and not as treasure given to him, it will very soon happen that, the more money he has, the more troubles he will have” (MTP 54:41).
2. “Where I have known one man fail through poverty, I have known fifty men fail through riches.”
“But the Lord uses other methods with his servants. I believe that he frequently tries us by the blessings which he sends us. This is a fact which is too much overlooked. When a man is permitted to grow rich, what a trial of faith is hidden away in that condition! It is one of the severest of providential tests! Where I have known one man fail through poverty, I have known fifty men fail through riches” (MTP 34:653, italics original).
3. “It is hard to keep great riches without sin.”
“The hasty desire to rise is the cause of many a fall. . . . It is hard to keep great riches without sin, and we have heard that it is harder still to get them. Walk warily, successful friend! Growing wealth will prove no blessing to thee unless thou gettest growing grace” (ST April 1867:158).
4. “Happiness lies in the heart rather than the purse.”
“It is better to be happy than to be rich; and happiness lies in the heart rather than the purse. Not what a man has, but what a man is, will decide his bliss or woe in this life and the next” (MTP 31:563).
5. “Moths will eat any of our garments, but they seem to fly first to the costly furs.”
“Observation shows us that there is a fascination in wealth which renders it extremely difficult for the possessors of it to maintain their equilibrium; and this is more especially the case where money is suddenly acquired; then, unless grace prevent, pride fumes, and he who is respectable in poverty, becomes despicable in prosperity. Pride may lurk under a threadbare cloak, but it prefers the comely broadcloth of the merchant’s cloak: moths will eat any of our garments, but they seem to fly first to the costly furs” (ST April 1867, 157).
6. “There is no grace in waste.”
“If we do not save while we have it we certainly shall not save after it is gone. There is no grace in waste. Economy is a duty; extravagance is a sin” (John Ploughman’s Pictures, 150).
7. “Money circulated is a medium of public benefit, while money hoarded it a means of private discomfort.”
“But are you in the quest of happiness? It lies not in investments, whether in Consols or mortgages, stocks or debentures, gold or silver. These properties are profitable. They can be used to promote happiness. As accessories to our welfare, they may often prove to be blessings, but is accredited with intrinsic worth they will eat as doth a canker. Money circulated is a medium of public benefit, while money hoarded is a means of private discomfort. . . . A miser is bound to be miserable” (MTP 62:520).
8. “Feel for others – in your pocket.”
“Feel for others – in your pocket. Practical, pecuniary sympathy is more useful than mere talk” (The Salt-Cellars 2:197).
9. “It is bad to see our money become a runaway servant and leave us, but it would be worse to have it stop with us and become our master.”
“It is bad to see our money become a runaway servant and leave us, but it would be worse to have it stop with us and become our master. We should try, as our minister says, ‘to find the golden mean,’ and never be lavish nor stingy” (John Ploughman’s Talk, 152).
10. “How many are they who have made a god of their wealth.”
“How many are they who have made a god of their wealth, and in hasting after riches have been drowned by the weight of their worldly substance” (MTP 15:318).
11. “That which costs us most we value most.”
“Recollect, the more trouble it costs you to bring a soul to Christ the greater will be your reward. In your own conscience you will feel a sweet recompense when you will in after days be able to say, ‘I travailed in birth for that soul.’ You will love it all the more because of the anguish of your spirit during its birth. I am sure it is so: that which costs us most we value most” (MTP 24:199).
12. “Whatever else we barter, let us never try to turn a penny by religion.”
“Better die than sell your soul to the highest bidder. Better be shut up in the workhouse than fatten upon hypocrisy. Whatever else we barter, let us never try to turn a penny by religion” (John Ploughman’s Pictures, 147).
13. “All that we possess here below is God’s property.”
“Moreover, our earthly comforts were never given to us to be held for ever by a covenant of salt. They are always loans, and never gifts. All that we possess here below is God’s property; he has only loaned it out to us, and what he lends he has a right to take back again” (MTP 23:391).
14. “A golden coffin will be a poor compensation for a damned soul.”
“Wealth, yes, if you must have it, though you shall find it an empty thing if you set your heart upon it. Prosperity in this world, earn it if you can do so fairly, but ‘what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?’ A golden coffin will be a poor compensation for a damned soul. To be cast away from God’s presence, can that misery be assuaged by mountains of treasure?” (MTP 17:425)
15. “Many people will always be poor because they never give to the cause of God.”
“Many people will always be poor because they never give to the cause of God. . . . The Lord will allow no service to remain unrecompensed; and work done for the poor and needy shall win its wage, not of debt, but of grace” (MTP 31:84).
16. “To get, we must give.”
“Let us learn then, from the analogy of nature, the great lesson, that to get, we must give; that to accumulate, we must scatter; that to make ourselves happy, we must make others happy” (MTP 11: 230).
17. “The cheerful giver is marching to the music of the spheres.”
“There is nothing in this world but lives by giving, except a covetous man, and such a man is a piece of grit in the machinery; he is out of gear with the universe. . . . But the cheerful giver is marching to the music of the spheres. He is in order with God’s great natural laws, and God therefore loveth him, since he sees his own work in him” (MTP 14:571).
18. “Our gifts are not to be measured by the amount we contribute, but by the surplus kept in our own hand.”
“Our gifts are not to be measured by the amount we contribute, but by the surplus kept in our own hand. The two mites of the widow were, in Christ’s eyes, worth more than all the other money cast into the treasury” (MTP 37:625).
19. “A good wife and health are a man’s best wealth.”
“A thrifty house-wife is better than a great income. A good wife and health are a man’s best wealth. Bless their hearts, what should we do without them?” (John Ploughman’s Talk, 152)