What’s the most important thing in the world today? For a lot of people, the answer is money. Making lots of money -along with the status and possessions that go with it- is a certainly a top priority among many people today. But is building up a whole lot money really the ticket to happiness? Let’s take a look at what the Bible has to say about it…
“Do you want to be truly rich? You already are if you are happy and good. After all, we didn’t bring any money with us when we came into the world, and we can’t carry away a single penny when we die. So we should be well satisfied without money if we have enough food and clothing” (1 Timothy 6:6-8).
Are you someone who has to have the newest or latest “stuff” in order to be happy? People who feel this way always seem to be buying or trading or upgrading just to have the latest model or version of something. In fact, many people just don’t seem to be happy unless they have the newest or the latest “whatever” to impress their friends.
On the other hand, there are many other people who are perfectly happy with the things they have until they meet someone who has better stuff than they have. That’s when the struggles with discontentment and jealousy often begin.
You see, it’s possible to have a lot of money yet still not be truly rich. It’s also possible to build up a lot of possessions yet still not be wealthy. Contrary to what many people believe, having a lot of “stuff” doesn’t necessarily make you a happier person. This is why the person who lives a God-honoring lifestyle that accepts what God provides with an attitude of thankfulness has a tremendous advantage over the person who needs a lot of money or things to be happy.
Of course, another problem with piling up a lot of money and possessions is that we can’t bring any of it with us when we die. This is illustrated by the wise old saying that tells us that you’ll never see a funeral car pulling a trailer behind it on the way to the cemetery.
This is a clever way of restating what the Bible has already told us in the verses quoted above- you can’t take it with you when you go. Listen, you didn’t bring anything into this world when you came into it, right? Well, in a similar way, no one will able to take any of the “stuff” they’ve accumulated here when they leave this planet.
Now you might say, Yeah, but if I make a lot money now at least I’ll be able to enjoy it while I’m here, right? Well, not necessarily. The issue with that is spelled out for us in Ecclesiastes 5:10-11…
“He who loves money shall never have enough. The foolishness of thinking that wealth brings happiness! The more you have, the more you spend, right up to the limits of your income…”
If you’re a high maintenance type of person who has to have a lot of money or things in order to be happy, then you’re bound to become disappointed at some point. It usually takes a lot of money to keep up with the “newest and latest” and if you have to have a lot of stuff in order to be content then you are just setting yourself up for eventual discontent.
You see, there will always be something newer or better than whatever it is that you have, which means that you’ll eventually have to spend even more money just to keep up. This just leads to an ongoing cycle of discontentment and dissatisfaction.
But there’s still another problem with the desire to pile up a lot of wealth…
“But people who long to be rich soon begin to do all kinds of wrong things to get money, things that hurt them and make them evil-minded and finally send them to hell itself. For the love of money is the first step toward all kinds of sin. Some people have even turned away from God because of their love for it, and as a result have pierced themselves with many sorrows” (1 Timothy 6:9-10).
If your main goal in life is making a lot of money then you’re going to make choices that are consistent with that, right? The problem is that people are often tempted to do many wrong and inappropriate things in order to build up a lot of money. This is because the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil (1 Timothy 6:10 NIV).
Now at this point we should make sure that everyone is clear on something. Many, many people quote the first part of 1 Timothy 6:10 incorrectly and say that “money is the root of all evil.” That’s not right- it’s not “money is the root of all evil,” it’s, the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Money itself is not evil- it’s what you do with it that can make that way!
Think about it: is there anything that people won’t do for the love of money? After all, why do prostitutes allow strangers to use and abuse their bodies? For money. Why do con artists cheat old people out of their savings? For money. Why do so-called psychics give brokenhearted families phony “messages” from their loved ones who have passed away? For money. Hey, why did Judas sell Jesus out? For money!
See, the love of money can lead people to lie, cheat, steal and do all sorts of evil, harmful things. This is why people who can be content with the blessings that God has already given them have a tremendous advantage.
Now we’ve already said that no one can take anything out of this world when they pass away, right? Well here’s something for you to consider: while you may not be able to take it with you when you go, it is possible for you to send it on ahead. Of course, some of you are now probably saying, If I can’t take it with me, how can I send it ahead? Well, here’s the way according to Jesus Himself…
“Don’t store up treasures here on earth where they can erode away or may be stolen. Store them in heaven where they will never lose their value and are safe from thieves. If your profits are in heaven, your heart will be there too” (Matthew 6:19-21).
“Sell what you have and give to those in need. This will fatten your purses in heaven! And the purses of heaven have no rips or holes in them. Your treasures there will never disappear; no thief can steal them; no moth can destroy them. Wherever your treasure is, there your heart and thoughts will also be” (Luke 12:33-34).
Sure, you can’t take it with you when you go but you can send it on ahead by making your investments in people. Instead of investing in a lot of “stuff,” make your investments in people instead. You can gain real, eternal riches by remembering this important principle- people are more important than things. A generous, God-honoring lifestyle that helps others, cares for those in trouble and helps to provide for those in need will pay off big in eternity!.
A lifestyle that is motivated by Jesus’ love and imitates God’s care and concern for people will produce eternal rewards for you long after you leave this planet. Remember that money is really just a tool to be used for other things. Using the money that God gives you in a way that honors Him benefits everyone, including yourself!
Now many people often struggle with using money in way that honors God, and it can be very tempting for people to say, Hey, it’s my money! I worked hard to get my money by using my skills, talents and abilities and I can do whatever I want with it. OK, that’s fair enough- but where did you get those skills, talents and abilities? See, if God did not allow you to have that good health, sharp mind, and ability to work hard then where would you be?
The honest truth is that no one has anything that God has not allowed them to have. We should be respectful and thankful to the God who has provided us with the skills, talents, opportunities and ability to be successful. Once we recognize the fact that we owe everything we have to God then it becomes easier for us to use our money and possessions in a way that honors Him.
So how do you overcome the love of money? Well one way to start is by giving some of it away. Now The Doctor is not suggesting that you go out and start handing out money on the street corner. Remember that you should always begin by financially supporting your home church. After that, you should prayerfully look for a worthwhile ministry and begin to support it regularly. The amount you give isn’t as important as the fact that you honor God with the money He gives you just like you would with any other area of your life.
Once you begin to put God first in the area of money and possessions then you can really start to enjoy them- or as we’re told in Acts 20:35…
“…I remembered the words of the Lord Jesus, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'”