Money Can’t Buy You Happiness

As a child, my friends and I would sit around in the park near my house discussing what we wanted to be when we grew up. The most common answers we all would give, besides a professional athlete, was a doctor or lawyer. You know why we gave those answers? It wasn’t because we cared about medicine or the law. Many of us didn’t even know what those jobs involved. Instead, we answered in those ways because we knew doctors and lawyers made a lot of money.

I lived in a lower middle class neighborhood as a child. We didn’t have all the luxuries many kids grow up with today. We always had clothing and food and a little bit more, but we didn’t have many of the luxuries of life. We saw a career as a doctor or lawyer as a way to get those luxuries. As a way to “make it” so to speak. I’m sure if you think back to your childhood, many of you probably had similar conversations.

Many of us are still chasing those luxuries. Many of us are still seeking to “make it”. We are working ourselves to the bone. Sacrificing every chance we get to make an extra dollar, to build another relationship, to connect with someone we think can help us get ahead. We miss time with our family, with our friends, with our church. We bend the rules at times, operating in the grey because it benefits us.

But here is the thing. Money can’t buy you happiness. It can’t buy you friends. It can’t buy you what you really need. It is temporary. When it is gone, the lifestyle you were striving to sustain, the possessions you were after, they are gone. Seeking to “make it” is one big lie and an even bigger let down.

When this young man ran out of money, his friends didn’t come to his aid. They were no where to be found. He had to hire himself out to feed pigs. A Jew feeding pigs. That is about as low as it gets. But here he is. At the bottom of the barrel, all because he thought money could buy him happiness.

Money can’t fill that whole in our heart. It didn’t for this young man. It won’t for you either. So don’t put your hope and trust in the wealth of the world. Instead, put your trust in the Lord. He is the only One who will ultimately satisfy.

You might have riches but don’t trust in them

“As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.” (1 Tim 6:17)

Don’t read the above and think of those in Hollywood or Silicon Valley. We, most Americans, are rich according to the worldly standards. According to Market Watch “the median net worth of the average U.S. household is $97,300.” That is the middle point. Half of US households earn more and half earn less. I understand poverty is an issue. I don’t want to make light of it. But when we compare ourselves to the world population by and large Americans are considered rich. So when you read “rich” in the above verse, don’t think someone else, think yourself.

Wealth, however, is not something in which we should put our trust. Many of us have lived through a recession. We have felt the sting of the stock market dropping. We are living through a pandemic. All of these events affect wealth / riches. What is here today can be gone tomorrow.

Instead of trusting in our riches, which are uncertain, we should trust in the Lord. He is our provider. The One who gives us all we have. You have the opportunities, position, intellect, abilities, and riches because of the Lord. We must, then, recognize God is the One who provides all. In turn, we must put our hope and trust in Him instead of the uncertainty of riches.

Pastor, please the Lord, not self or man.

”For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.” (1 Thess 2:3-4)

True workmen for the Lord do not have ulterior motives. They should not be greedy. Their desire should not be to amass wealth, status, or position off the backs of those they are to serve and to whom they are to preach the good news. One should not enter ministry for riches or acclaim.

Ministers are entrusted with the gospel. They are speak the truth in love, not to please man, but to please God. Here in lies the difficulty. God is our boss/master not man. Sometimes those two are at odds. When they are at odds with one another, our default should not be to please man, rather our default should be to please God, trusting He will care for us.

Pastor, why do you preach? Why do you serve? Is it for your own gain or the gain of others? Do you trust God to provide or do you fear man? As Pastors, we serve an audience of One (God) to the pleasure of many (the congregation). Our focus must always be on pleasing the Lord not self or man.

The things of the world are rubbish when compared to Jesus.

“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ” (Phil3:8)

To know Christ is the greatest thing in the world. There is nothing better or more joyful than to have a relationship with Jesus. A saving relationship. One that redeems us from God’s wrath.

It is Jesus who makes us righteous. When we believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior, His righteous life is credited to our account. As well as His payment of death redeems us from the demands of the law, which is death for our sin. The law can’t provide us righteousness because it demands what we can’t give — perfection. The law for us restrains and points. It restrains sin by providing guardrails in which we are to operate. It also points forward to the need for a Savior because we can’t save ourselves.

Paul knew the value of a relationship with Jesus, which is why he counted everything else as rubbish, as garbage, as not worthy of keeping. A relationship with Jesus is penultimate and the only relationship worth keeping and continuing to pursue.

The things of the world are rubbish when compared to Jesus. Chase after Jesus. Pursue Jesus. Count everything else you could gain as loss in comparison to Jesus.

Is your prosperity getting in the way of praising God for His provision?

Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name. For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning. As for me, I said in my prosperity, “I shall never be moved.” By your favor, O Lord, you made my mountain stand strong; you hid your face; I was dismayed. To you, O Lord, I cry, and to the Lord I plead for mercy: “What profit is there in my death, if I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it tell of your faithfulness? Hear, O Lord, and be merciful to me! O Lord, be my helper!” You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!” (Ps 30:4–12)

Context

These verses indicate that David was well off. After all, he was the king of Israel. His kingdom was rich and blessed in many different ways. The things his hands touched prospered. In his life of ease, he forgot about the Lord. He thought his possessions, money, kingdom, and military was all he needed for success. But this was not so. The reason he had what he had was because of the hand of the Lord.

Pride = The Lord’s Discipline

As a result of his pride, David faced the discipline of the Lord (Ps. 30:7). God hid His face from him. In other words, He removed His blessing and protection. Eventually, through the Lord’s discipline, David realized his sin, repented, cried to the Lord for mercy, and was restored (Ps. 30:8-10).

For Us

David teaches us a valuable lesson, especially those of us that live in Western Christendom. We are a prosperous nation and people by all account. Many of us don’t want for anything. We are successful. Live in nice houses, drive nice cars, and have a good paying job that provides well for our family. We are able to take vacations every year, entertain our families every weekend, and enroll our children in extracurricular activities throughout the year. We are a prosperous people.

While it is okay to enjoy the Lord’s blessings, we go wrong, just like David, when we begin to trust in our prosperity instead of the Lord. When things are going well, it’s easy to forget God is the One who provides everything we have. Sometimes it takes God removing His hand of blessing from our life in order for us to realize that He is the One who prosperous us instead of ourselves.

May we always remember the reason we have what we have is because of the Lord’s blessings on our lives. When we forget that all important trust and begin to trust in ourselves, may we be quick to repent of our pride and turn to worship the Lord for His abundant grace, mercy, and provision.

Question for Reflection

  1. Is your prosperity getting in the way of praising God for His provision?

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