“How much money does it take to be happy?”
When that question was posed to a 20th century billionaire and social recluse Howard Hughes (one of the wealthiest people at the time), his answer has become the stuff of legend: “Just a little bit more.”
I wonder how many of us share that same sentiment. Maybe we don’t voice it out loud, but secretly we’re nodding along with Mr. Hughes. “Just a little bit more money and I’ll be happy.”
Depending on your financial circumstances, there could be a whole lot of truth to that idea. If you’re living in complete poverty, there’s a practical side to this.
More often than not, however, our attitude towards money and the stuff it buys has little to do with our bank accounts and much to do with our attitudes. And when we’re talking about attitudes, we’re really talking about what’s going on in our hearts.
Maybe another wealthy man, King Solomon of Israel, really “hit the nail on the head” when he penned this in Ecclesiastes 5:10-20 (NIV):
10 Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless.
11 As goods increase, so do those who consume them. And what benefit are they to the owners except to feast their eyes on them? 12 The sleep of a laborer is sweet, whether they eat little or much, but as for the rich, their abundance permits them no sleep.
13 I have seen a grievous evil under the sun: wealth hoarded to the harm of its owners, 14 or wealth lost through some misfortune, so that when they have children there is nothing left for them to inherit. 15 Everyone comes naked from their mother’s womb, and as everyone comes, so they depart. They take nothing from their toil that they can carry in their hands. 16 This too is a grievous evil: As everyone comes, so they depart, and what do they gain, since they toil for the wind? 17 All their days they eat in darkness, with great frustration, affliction and anger.
18 This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot. 19 Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God. 20 They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart.
Considering the greatest source of stress in our lives is money, this passage confronts us where we’re living. And Solomon doesn’t waste time and cuts right to the heart of the matter: “Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless” (verse 10).
And we know it. We know it all too well. And we’re looking for advice on how to handle our money.
From CNBC to Fox Business, everyone’s talking about money and we’re listening. You know what? The Bible has A LOT to say about money as well. Matter of fact, the Bible says more about money than any other single subject. Jesus Himself talked more about money than heaven and hell…combined.
Want a quick test of your attitude towards money and the stuff it buys? Answer this: is there a time when you do NOT have something on your “wish list”? Do you get one thing only to immediately stick something else on the list to take its place? I know I do. I’m working on it, too.
It doesn’t matter how much we get or how big that bonus is, if we love money then we will never, ever, ever, ever be satisfied. We will never find contentment if we’re addicted to money.
We work so hard for something we’ll never be able to hang on to. Money may be the most recycled resource on the planet. What is ours was someone else’s at some point and what is ours will one day be someone else’s. It’s not stopping with us! Whether it’s the state, the IRS, a failed investment, paying bills, an unexpected expense, or our own death, we are not keeping the thing we worked so hard to accumulate.
Money makes a fantastic tool but a really, really cruel taskmaster.
The wealth we have—great or small—is a gift from God not a god to be worshiped.
One of the best ways to break free of the addiction is to learn to make eternal investments. Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19–21, NIV).
Let’s get our motivations right. Let’s worship the God who gives all financial gifts to us. Worship the Creator and not the created. Jesus commands us to consider the eternality of our souls in light of our pursuit of resource in Mark 8:36 (NIV): What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?