The real measure of our wealth is how much we would be worth if we lost all of our money. That worth depends on how we live, not on what we have. — Elder LeGrand R. Curtis, Ensign, July 1995, p. 33
Men and women who are trying to make themselves happy in the possession of wealth or power will miss it, for nothing short of the gospel of the Son of God can make the inhabitants of the earth happy. — Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 11:329
You know very well that it is against my doctrine and feelings for men to scrape together the wealth of the world and let it waste and do no good. — Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 9:186
We are in the age of self-indulgence. It is not peculiar to this church – it is in the world. The spirit of it is rampant everywhere. It destroys that which persecution and violence fail to destroy – the integrity of the LDS people. I am not a pessimist. The promises of the Lord will prevail.
The greatest trials that will ever come to the people of the earth are peace and prosperity. We are going to do a new thing. A thing that never has before been done. We are to take the church of Christ through not only violence but through peace and prosperity. I am praying for peace and prosperity not mob violence, but I pray for faith and power to endure the test. The Lord does not want us always in bondage and in distress. Peace and prosperity will come, but this is the severest trial that will ever come upon the people. . . . — Elder Melvin J. Ballard, General Conference, April 1929 [just before the Great Depression hit in October]
Brigham Young said, “The worst fear I have about this people is that they will get rich in this country, forget God and His people, wax fat, and kick themselves out of the Church and go to hell. This people will stand mobbing, robbing, poverty, and all manner of persecutions, and be true. But my greater fear…is that they cannot stand wealth.”
His counsel to the early Saints reflects the sentiments expressed by Jacob in the Book of Mormon. These men felt there was nothing inherently wrong in acquiring wealth. The danger lay in its obscuring the need for acknowledging the Lord’s hand in these blessings, and in failing to use the abundance to bless others and to accomplish the Lord’s purposes. Jacob said: “But before ye seek for riches, seek ye for the kingdom of God. And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good – to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted. (Jacob 2:17-19.)” — Elder Dean L. Larsen, Ensign, May 1991, p. 11
Jacob taught that God would not condemn the wealthy for their riches, but for their pride in being rich (see Jacob 2:13-14). The people of Nephi had made money, rather than God, the center of their life. Their search for wealth had become a means of persecuting their brethren rather than a means for doing good (see vv. 18-19). Jacob 2:12-19 and other related scriptures (see 1 Tim. 6:3-12, 17-19, James 5:1-6, Mosiah 4:16-26, D&C 56:16-20, 104:13-18) teach the following about the accumulation of wealth:
1. Our first priority should be seeking for and building up the kingdom of God.
2. Money is a medium of exchange and is of itself neutral. Our attitude toward material and spiritual things shifts wealth out of its neutral position.
3. Two basic relationships help determine our attitude toward spiritual and material things –
a. Our relationship with God. If we turn our hearts away from God, the things of the world become our top priority. This is why Paul called covetousness “idolatry” (see Ephesians 5:5, Colossians 3:5).
b. Our relationship with our fellowmen. If we lose sight of the brotherhood of men, our desire for material wealth can lead us to such sins as dishonesty, covetousness, and neglect of the poor.
President David O. McKay counseled: “What seek ye first? What do you cherish as the dominant, the uppermost thought in your mind? What this is will largely determine your destiny. Notwithstanding the complexity of human society, we can encompass all purposes by two great important ones. First, the world of material gain; and, second, the world of happiness consisting of love and the power to do good. If it is your purpose to get worldly gain, you may obtain it. You may win in this world almost anything for which you strive. If you work for wealth, you can get it, but before you make it an end in itself, take a look at those men who have sacrificed all to the accomplishment of this purpose, at those who have desired wealth for the sake of wealth itself. Gold does not corrupt man; it is in the motive of acquiring that gold that corruption occurs” (Treasures of Life, pp. 174-75). — Book of Mormon Student Manual, Religion 121 and 122, p. 45
Book of Mormon history eloquently reveals the corrosive effect of the passion for wealth. Each time the people became righteous, they prospered. Then followed the transition from prosperity to wealth, wealth to the love of wealth, then to the love of ease and luxury. They moved then into spiritual inactivity, then to gross sin and wickedness, then on to near destruction by their enemies. . . . Had the people used their wealth for good purposes they could have enjoyed a continuing prosperity.
The Lord has blessed us as a people with a prosperity unequaled in times past. The resources that have been placed in our power are good, and necessary to our work here on the earth. But I am afraid that many of us have been surfeited with flocks and herds and acres and barns and wealth and have begun to worship them as false gods, and they have power over us. . . . Forgotten is the fact that our assignment is to use these many resources in our families and quorums to build up the kingdom of God – to further the missionary effort and the genealogical and temple work; to raise our children up as fruitful servants unto the Lord; to bless others in every way, that they may also be fruitful. Instead, we expend these blessings on our own desires, and as Moroni said, “Ye adorn yourselves with that which hath no life, and yet suffer the hungry, and the needy, and the naked, and the sick and the afflicted to pass by you, and notice them not.” (Mormon 8:39.) — Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball, pp. 145-53
Without discussing wealth and fame, shall we not call a halt in this pleasure craze, and go about the legitimate business of true Latter-day Saints, which is to desire and strive to be of some use in the world? Shall we not instead do something to increase the genuine joy and welfare and virtue of mankind as well as our own by helping to bear the burdens under which the toilers are groaning, by rendering loving, devoted and unselfish service to our fellow man? — Improvement Era, Vol. 12, July 1909, p. 744
“The race is not to the swift, nor riches to men of wisdom. Do not fret, nor be so anxious about property, nor think that when you have gathered treasures, they alone will produce joy and comfort; for it is not so.
“The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor riches to men of wisdom. The Lord gives the increase: he makes rich whom he pleases. You may inquire, ‘Why not make us rich?’ Perhaps, because we would not know what to do with riches.” (Brigham Young, in Journal of Discourses, 7:241.) — Old Testament Student Manual, 1 Kings – Malachi, p. 20
The scriptures contain many evidences of the Lord’s willingness to prosper his people with the riches of the earth when they demonstrate that they will use this abundance prudently, with humility and charity, always acknowledging the source of their blessings. — Elder Dean L. Larsen, Ensign, Nov. 1992, p. 40
Many people spend most of their time working in the service of a self-image that includes sufficient money, stocks, bonds, investment portfolios, property, credit cards, furnishings, automobiles, and the like to guarantee carnal security throughout, it is hoped, a long and happy life. Forgotten is the fact that our assignment is to use these many resources in our families and quorums to build up the kingdom of God – to further the missionary effort and the genealogical and temple work; to raise our children up as fruitful servants unto the Lord; to bless others in every way, that they may also be fruitful. Instead, we expend these blessings on our own desires, and as Moroni said, “Ye adorn yourselves with that which hath no life, and yet suffer the hungry, and the needy, and the naked, and the sick and the afflicted to pass by you, and notice them not.” (Mormon 8:39.) — President Spencer W. Kimball, quoted by Marion G. Romney, Conference Report, “The Purpose of Church Welfare System, Ensign, May 1977
I rejoice in seeing the Latter-day Saints increase in wealth; I rejoice when they build fine homes and to know they are able to keep carriages to ride in, and to enjoy the comforts of life. But I cannot rejoice in seeing the people grow in knowledge, intelligence and wealth unless there is a corresponding growth in good works and love for their fellow man; unless the desire is manifested in their works to carry on and advance the work of God. The more wealth and the more intelligence we can gain, the greater will be our ability to labor for the advancement of God’s Kingdom. — President Heber J. Grant, Collected Discourses, Vol 1, Sept. 1, 1889
But there is danger if we become lifted up in the pride of our hearts and think, because we have gathered an abundance of the wealth of this world, that we are a little better than our poor brother who labors eight or ten hours a day at the hardest kind of labor. Any person having the name of Latter-day Saint who feels that he is better than, and distinguishes himself from, the poor and supposes that he belongs to a little higher class than they, is in danger. — Elder Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses 17:31
Any fool can make money. It takes a wise person to know how to spend it. — Brigham Young
I have always believed that the Lord intended that we should enjoy the material comforts
that can be afforded to us in this life. I have never felt that he intended us to be in poverty. I have believed that he has planned that the earth should yield of her substance and her riches to those who are righteous and who keep the commandments. I believe that the call to us at this time, in these distressing financial conditions, is to keep the commandments of the Lord, to establish ourselves in the various lines of industry that are open to us; to develop the resources of our country, to live economically; to put into practice the great lessons of thrift that have been given to us, and to devote our all to the establishment of this great work. — Elder Stephen L. Richards, Conference Report, April 1921
Sadly, many individuals don’t know where to find God, and exclude him from their lives.
When spiritual needs arise, they may look to the left, the right, or round about. But looking to other people on the same level cannot satisfy spiritual shortages. When the immortal spirit is starved, hunger persists for something more filling. Even when material success comes, there is a hollow ache – if living well falls short of living worthily. Inner peace cannot be found in affluence accompanied by spiritual privation. — Elder Russell M. Nelson, Ensign, May 1996, p. 14
If you were in possession of all the wealth in the world, it is not worth so much to you as your good characters. Preserve them. If you have a happy influence with your brethren and sisters, preserve it, for it is more choice than fine gold. — Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 8:346
What are we working for? Wealth? Riches? If we have embraced the gospel of Jesus Christ, then we are working for eternal life. Then we are laboring to save our souls. And after saving our own souls we are laboring for the salvation of our children. . . . I want to say that the best inheritance that you can leave to your sons and daughters is an investment in the kingdom of God. — Teachings of Presidents of The Church: Heber J. Grant, p. 204
You may surround any man or woman with all the wealth and glory that the imagination of man can grasp, and are they satisfied? No. There is still an aching void. On the other hand, show me a beggar upon the streets, who has the Holy Ghost, whose mind is filled with that spirit and power, and I will show you a person who has peace of mind, who possesses true riches, and those enjoyments that no man can obtain from any other source. — The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, p. 5