Summary: It is the worldly who are poor, and it is believers who are rich. Our treasure is in heaven, and we should set our minds “on the things above, not on the things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2)
Keys to Happiness
Reading: Psalms 37:1-11
Text: Hebrews 13:5-6
I was flipping channels the other night and I happened upon one of the many cable news outlets which was conducting an interview of someone who had suffered some amount of financial loss in one of the recently publicized scandals from Wall Street. The interviewer at the time that I happened upon the scene was inquiring as to the state of happiness of the individual. Now I need to tell you that the person being interviewed was a person of some means, that is to say they have money, lots of money (the identity of the person is not really relevant.) And while they had been victimized and had suffered loss, they were by no means destitute. What struck me was they response to the question. As the interview was being conducted in an opulent living room of a Southern California mansion with the Pacific Ocean clearly visible through large bay windows, the person answered: “How can I possibly be happy in these circumstances?”
Now I don’t mean to belittle the situation, I am sorry that this person (and possibly the thousands of more) lost money of any amount but the answer touches on what I believe is a large problem for many, if not most, of us living in the US today and that is the tendency in our culture to equate happiness to riches (that is material things.) We seem to believe that in order to be happy we must have more – stuff. More money, larger house, newer car, or the latest electronic gadget is tied to our happiness quotient. The problem is that happiness from “things” is illusionary and is sure to leave us disappointed at best, and probably depressed and despondent.
The fact of the matter is that money can’t buy happiness. The American average standard of living is reported to be better than 90% of people in human history. (Car, indoor plumbing, separate bedroom for parents and children, enough food for the week.) But our culture insists that we must have more. Sometimes, perhaps most times, we still wish we had more.
The fact of the matter is that money doesn’t satisfy.
ILL: Ray Stedman calls it Destination Sickness: “The disease that hits you when you achieve all your dreams, when you accomplish all the goals that you think will give you fulfillment – and then find that you are not happy.”
In 2004 about a third of Americans reported being "very happy," the same share as in 1957, when Americans were only half as wealthy. Americans are also some of the most overworked people in the industrial world, putting in the equivalent of nine more weeks on the job each year than the average European.
We work and work and work to establish a career or build a house or raise a family – and then find that what we thought would make us happy does nothing of the kind.
It shouldn’t surprise us:
Ecclesiastes 5:10 (NASB) He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves abundance with its income. This too is vanity.