A few weeks ago, the topic of conversation during our Friday Fellowship was financial wealth and Christianity. Some of the questions we examined were, what does the Bible say about pursuing financial riches? Can money buy happiness? What approaches and attitudes towards money are worthwhile to keep in mind to help us stay on the right path.
There were some differing opinions on whether money can buy happiness. One can’t deny that having a lot of nice things can feel pretty good. Being able to go on expensive vacations can also prompt a lot of enjoyment as well. I certainly can’t argue with that. But this opens the window for some other worthwhile questions.
- Can a person be happy without going on vacation, and without owning a lot of possessions?
- What happens when you have lots of money but have poor health?
- … Or no friends or family to love?
- … Or no goal or purpose in life?
It can certainly make life a fair bit easier to not have to worry about financial security, but it doesn’t necessarily eliminate all the problems that exist in a person’s life.
I think one of the most dangerous aspects of money is its ability to corrupt. When the pursuit of wealth and possession begins to compromise the moral and ethical choices a person makes, this is when I see it becoming a problem. If the money you make clearly causes the suffering of others, is it worth it?
What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?
– Mark 8:36
There’s also a question of your purpose for money. I can’t fault a person for diligently trying to raise money to fund the fixing of a church building. I can’t argue about a person trying to work hard to support a family. I think this type of thing is only natural.
Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever
– 1 Timothy 5:8
I do think there’s a different between accumulating wealth for the purpose of providing it to others, and accumulating wealth out of greed. If you’re just accumulating wealth so that you can look down on others, I wonder if you’re overstating the significance of wealth. I’m not saying you shouldn’t think highly of people who are wealthy. I do think that your high regard should come from how a person acquired his wealth, not just that it was acquired. Respect the musician for the music, not that they made money from the music. By overstating the importance of money, isn’t someone more or less making an idol out of it?
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
– Luke 16:13
It’s an unavoidable reality that there will be some who possess more wealth than others. For those who have less, this does not make you less in any way. Similarly for those who have more, this does not make you in any way better either. What I do know is that God doesn’t love us more if we have more money than another person. And I also know that a person can find happiness and joy in simple, inexpensive things like having a good conversation with someone … or enjoying good food with your family… or learning how to play a new instrument or a new song with a group of friends… or countless other simple pleasures.
I have moments of happiness and sadness like anyone else. I have times in life when finances are tighter than others. I don’t know how to find happiness, but I’m pretty sure money isn’t the final answer. I must admit, there are times when I wish I had more of it… but maybe money isn’t what we should be worrying or asking about? Maybe what we should be asking for is a greater understanding of God’s plan, and the strength to follow it. Then you’ll have your brothers and sisters in Christ with you at your side, plus the worthiest of purposes to devote yourself to — and the satisfaction and sense of belonging derived from these are things that money can’t buy.
I’ll close again with a passage from the Bible. In the following passage, how does the wealth of King Solomon compare to the beauty of a flower? I suppose it’s not a bad thing to try grow in wealth to cover our necessities in life, but after all things are considered, shouldn’t our main concern should be to grow like flowers, basking in the light of the Lord?
“Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.
– Luke 12:27-31