I have studied both of these men and when I read this quote from a new book I found it worth reading. Welcome to Monday and a new week.
Generosity and Your Wealth
Howard Hughes was one of the wealthiest men to have lived in the past two hundred years. He was an aviator, an investor, a filmmaker, a business tycoon, an engineer, a hotelier, and an entrepreneur. Yet he was one of the most eccentric, troubled people you could ever come across. Hughes was known as a pleasure-seeking playboy with an aversion to giving. As he grew older, he accumulated more and more wealth, amassing a fortune of over $2.5 billion.
Despite his substantial wealth, Hughes was known as stingy, self-centered, and selfish, allowing his fortune to create an artificial barrier between himself and all those who cared for him. Even as he suffered tremendously with mental and physical health, he pushed away everybody in his life. Hughes became a recluse and was known to lock himself away in one place for months at a time. By the time of his death, he was practically unrecognizable. He died miserable, sad, and alone. His life was one of selfishness and greed. His wealth became a prison, condemning him to a lonely life and death.
In sharp contrast to Hughes, George Müller lived a life marked by radical generosity, although he began life with a purpose similar to Howard Hughes’s and was known for stealing, gambling debts, drunkenness, and lewd stories. However, Müller experienced a spiritual transformation and set out to serve God and bring Him glory.
Müller and his wife were deeply affected by the plight of orphans roaming the streets in their town of Bristol, England. They decided to begin an orphanage and determined that they would never ask for money. Whenever they had a need, they brought it to God and watched Him provide. During his life Müller received over 1.5 million pounds in donations. He directed every pound to serving the orphans in his care. He and his wife cared for more than 10,000 orphans, sharing their lives and Christ with each of them.
When Müller died, he had influenced countless souls and is remembered as one of the greatest men of faith in history. He never held on to what was given to him but invested it in other people, and God always provided for him and the orphans. When any orphan became old enough to leave the orphanage, Müller placed a Bible in the orphan’s right hand and a coin in the orphan’s left hand. He prayed with the child and told him that if he clung tightly to what was in his right hand, God would always make sure he had something in his left hand.
Both of these men had what many of us long for. Howard Hughes had great wealth and power; George Müller, great faith and impact. However, in these two contrasting stories we see the destructive force of greed and the life-giving force of generosity. Only one of these men lived a life worth emulating, a life filled with joy and wonder. I recently heard a quotation by a Canadian man named Carey Nieuwhof that fittingly sums up these two stories: “There are no inspiring stories of accumulation, only inspiring stories of sacrifice.”