“A Fortune to Share,” Ensign, Jan. 1974, 60
In the greatest sermon that was ever preached, the greatest man who ever lived gave what was probably the wisest counsel that has ever been given when he said that we should lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven. And that is probably our most profitable idea.
However, the thing that we spend more time doing than about anything else in our lives is laying up for ourselves treasures upon the earth. And that is also a great idea, providing we know how to handle it. Many people have contended for the treasures in heaven on the grounds that they have much greater value, they are a lot more satisfying, they are a lot more permanent. Someone has complained that one of the disadvantages of the treasures of the earth is that you can’t take them with you. Someone else has pointed out that with taxes like they are, you can’t even keep them while you are here. This man put this idea in rhyme. He said:
“You can’t take them with you,
That’s practically sure;
For they’re generally gone,
Quite a long time before you’re.”
Now that may not be very good poetry, but it is a striking idea. And some pessimist has added that even if you could take them with you, they would only melt. However, it seems to me that frequently we spend a lot more time than is necessary in downgrading these great treasures that we get from the earth. We sometimes refer to our medium of exchange by calling it such unsavory names as “filthy lucre” or “tainted money,” and sometimes that may be an accurate description, but it need not necessarily be so.
Somebody said, “Money can’t buy happiness,” but his friend said, “Maybe not, but it does enable one to pick out the particular kind of misery that he enjoys the most.” And someone has pointed out that if there is anyone who can’t buy happiness with money it must be that he just doesn’t know where to shop. We can build temples with money, we can send out missionaries with money, we can erect educational institutions, operate hospitals, and pay our tithing with money. We can feed and clothe our families with money, and in many ways we can build up the kingdom of God with money.
Someone said, “Money ain’t everything,” and his friend said, “Just name me three things that it ain’t.” But we also should think of some of those things that it is. Money is preserved labor, it is industry made negotiable, it is stored up accomplishment. It is the medium of exchange that we can trade for things that we can take with us and a great many of them we can actually send on ahead. We can take our families with us. We can take our education with us. We can take our great character qualities with us. And money is the medium that we can use to share the treasures of the earth with others who need our help.
In 1931, Vashni [H.P.] Young wrote a popular best-seller entitled A Fortune to Share (Bobbs-Merrill). Vashni Young had worked as a salesman during the lush, easy, prosperous years of the late 1920s, and then the market crash of October 1929 had plunged Vashni Young, with a few million other people, into the bottomless economic pit of the early 1930s. But he did not like the depression and he had become pretty sour on this world generally. And so he bought a gun and decided to have a look at the next world by committing suicide. But before he pulled the trigger, he spent a little time thinking about his wife and children and he decided that suicide was not a very manly way to solve a problem. And so instead of shooting himself, he did a little analyzing and he discovered that his mind had been operating like a giant junk factory, turning out all kinds of mental, emotional, and spiritual junk.
Then he remembered William James, the great Harvard psychologist who said, “The greatest discovery of my generation is that you can change your circumstances by changing your attitudes of mind.” And while everybody wants to change his circumstances, Vash Young decided to change himself. He said: “I got tired of being a fool.” He wanted to get out of the junk business and so he dumped overboard a lot of his bad habits of liquor, tobacco, and irresponsibility. He decided to adopt some good attitudes, think like a man, be responsible, and go to work.
It wasn’t long before Vash Young discovered that life was much more pleasant and that his prosperity level was going up by leaps and bounds. And then he made a great discovery that he had personal possession of a vast fortune which he could share with every other person in the world without lessening his own supply.
He wrote his great book, A Fortune to Share, and gave it as wide a circulation as possible, telling people about his discovery. Then he set aside one day each week which he called “trouble day” during which he worked with other troubled people trying to persuade them to get out of the junk business and share in this great fortune which was so readily available.
If I were asked to give the best idea of which I am capable, it would be closely related to this, that we should get out of the junk business and then start laying up treasures in heaven by sharing with others that vast fortune which each of us has or can get possession of.
Yesterday President Rex D. Pinegar mentioned Patrick Henry, one of our early American patriots who lived a long, useful, and successful life. Just before his death he said, “I have now finished distributing all of my property to my children. However, there is one more thing that I wish I could give them, and that is the Christian religion. If I could give them that, though I had not given them a single shilling, they would be rich. And if they did not have that, though I had given them the whole world, they would be poor.”
I hold in my hand a copy of the Holy Bible. In this is written the word of the Lord. It contains the covenants that he has made and would like to make with every person who has lived or who ever will live upon the earth. This book gives an account of one occasion some 34 centuries ago when the God of creation came down on to the top of Mt. Sinai in a cloud of fire, and to the accompaniment of the lightnings and thunders of that sacred mountain gave us the Ten Commandments, in which he enumerated ten ways that we can get out of the junk business. Just think what would happen in our world if we all fully observed the Ten Commandments. That would mean that we would stop cheating and lying and stealing and killing and being immoral and violating the Sabbath day. Then this earth would soon be God’s paradise and our material prosperity would go up like a skyrocket. The Lord has also included in the Bible a great credenda of those soul-saving truths that we can share with other people. The Bible is the Lord’s own fortune-to-share book.
As Sir Walter Scott lay dying, he said to his son-in-law, “Lockhart, read to me from the book.” His son-in-law said, “Which book?” Sir Walter said, “Lockhart, there is only one book. Read to me from the book.”
But in our own day, the Lord has given to the world three great volumes of new scripture outlining in every detail the simple principles of the gospel of Christ, with a “thus saith the Lord” attached to each one. Therefore, the Lord now has four fortune-to-share books.
However, one of the shortcomings of even the holy scriptures is that they are not automatic. That is, they will not work unless we do. More than anything else the great message of the Lord needs messengers. The Lord has invited us to have as large a share as we like in his important family concern which Jesus referred to as “my Father’s business.” Now that is the business of building integrity and character and righteousness and eternal life into the lives of his children. The Lord has told us many things about the importance of the family. He has given us this miraculous power of procreation where we can create children in God’s own image and share with them the tremendous blessings of life itself. Then during our family home evenings we may share with them the great treasures of the gospel of salvation. And through the missionary program we can share the blessings of eternal life with all of our friends and neighbors. God has promised us that if we will effectively be his messengers he will share his fortune with both those who give it and those who receive it.
In speaking of the oath and covenant of the priesthood, he has said:
“For he that receiveth my servants receiveth me;
“And he that receiveth me receiveth my Father;
“And he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father’s kingdom; therefore all that my Father hath shall be given unto him.” (D&C 84:36–38.) If you can think of something more exciting than that, I don’t know what it would be.
God is a very wealthy personage. We all like to inherit from a wealthy parent and what could be more exciting than to inherit from God, to get everything that God has. Someone has said that thrift is a great virtue, especially in an ancestor. And God has been very thrifty, he has also been very wise and he has been very generous. To begin with, he created us in his own image and has endowed us with a set of his attributes and potentialities, the development of which is one of the purposes for which we live. He desires that every one of us should be rich. He has said: “… the fulness of the earth is yours …” (D&C 59:16), and it pleaseth God that he has given all these things unto men to be used with judgment and thanksgiving. He has shared with us the fulness of the treasures of the earth and he desires to share with us the fulness of the treasures of heaven. He wants us to inherit the celestial kingdom and belong to that celestial order of which he himself is a member. And he has said that the greatest of all the gifts of God is the gift of eternal life in his presence.
And so we come back to the place where we began and hear again those great words as they come down to us from the mount in which the Lord of Hosts has said, “… lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven. …” (Matt. 6:20.)
And that we may be fully successful in this greatest of all enterprises, I humbly pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.