Let’s do some financial planning together. Some might object: “I don’t have any finances left to plan!” It is certainly a challenging time. We live in a material world, and all of us could use a little more material to work with. Oftentimes, we seem to have more month than money. Paychecks have been stretched to the breaking point, and something has got to give.
So let’s play Make Believe for a moment. How much MORE money do you need? I’m not talking about winning the MegaMillions’ jackpot. Just how much MORE money would you need to feel secure, content, and happy?
When asked this question, millionaire John D. Rockefeller’s famous reply was: “Just a little bit more!”
Isn’t that the truth? Regardless of our income, we could always use more money. Our wants and needs tend to expand to meet and exceed our income. According to bankrate.com, about 40% of all U. S. families spend MORE than their annual income each year.
Americans have underwritten lifestyle choices with easy credit and delayed payments, spending more than we make. We’ve danced, and now the fiddler wants to be paid. We are facing some of the cold, hard facts about cold, hard cash.
The saddest part is that our pursuit of happiness through materialism does not work. A number of studies have proven that there is no relationship between money and happiness. One economist who has done extensive research on the subject summarized the longitudinal studies by saying: “If you follow a single person over time as they move from lower income to higher income, you will find no increase in their happiness.” (Richard Easterlin, University of Southern California)
The old saying is true: Money can’t buy happiness. If we expect more money to make us feel happy, joyful, content, fulfilled, or valuable, then we will be sadly disappointed. It was never designed by God to do any of these things.
Money is a gift given to us by God to care for ourselves and others. It is a means to an end, a tool to accomplish a job. A carpenter doesn’t get misty-eyed over his hammer. An accountant isn’t overly attached to her calculator. An IT professional doesn’t kiss his computer good night. An insurance agent doesn’t dream of a new actuarial table that will finally make her life complete. A teacher doesn’t expect a new curriculum to make his career worthwhile. Why would we expect money to fill us with purpose and meaning?
Our material resources are good gifts given to us by a loving Creator. However, it is our human sinful nature to constantly get the created confused with the Creator. Time and again we find ourselves worshipping the made rather than the Maker. It is not a question of whether we have a little money but whether a little money has us.
Money makes a wonderful servant but a terrible master!
There are moments when we all fall into the trap of making a living rather than making a life. However, God calls us to a lifestyle of faithful stewardship. Stewards care for someone else’s property like it was their own. Christians realize that all of life—including our financial resources—is a gift from God. We are called to use these gifts for the kingdom of God’s sake but never to grow overly attached to what was not ours to begin with. Someday we will be called to return with interest what we have received.
So store up your treasure in heaven—otherwise, you are buying stock in a world that is going bankrupt.
It is how most people feel. Enough is not enough. My granddaughter works with the homeless in Los Angeles. She says she does not hear them complain. What they have is OKAY. It is what it is. Thanks for writing these thought provoking blogs.
Thanks for sharing–great point. A friend and fellow pastor, Jim Ellison, runs Restoration Atlanta based at the City of Refuge in downtown Atlanta. He often talks about the gratitude of the shelter’s clients for even the simplest expressions of love and assistance. Reading the Bible, ingratitude appears to be the root of much sinfulness.
Thamks for your well written thoughts. There is so much that we can learn from it. I trust that we will apply it to our daily living.