Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Money For Nothin?

Dave Ramsey’s website points out that there are over 800 passages in scripture that deal with money. That clearly makes it one of the Bible’s most important topics. Money thoughts appear in the Torah, the prophets, wisdom literature, the Gospels, the letters of Paul … throughout the entire Bible.

Money is a subject of Jesus’s own teaching. It is Jesus who says that we cannot “serve two masters,” and if we try to serve both God and wealth, we will fail (Matthew 6:24). He throws down a challenge for his followers, saying that none of us can become his disciples without giving up our possessions (Luke 14:33).

Jesus’s thoughts on wealth might be summed up in one big idea: “One’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions” (Luke 12:15).

How quickly we forget this profound truth!

I look at our house, our cars, our various screen devices, our closets filled with clothes. I think about our bank accounts, our insurance policies, our college funds, our retirement plans. So. Much. Stuff.

I wonder, does my life consist in an abundance of possessions? What would my life be if all of these things were gone?

It’s easy enough to answer those questions about wealth and possessions while I’m enjoying their benefits. “Of course I’m not ‘serving two masters!’” I might say … from the soft couch in my warm and dry living room, with my full belly, dressed in clothes appropriate for the weather.

Will there ever be a time I can honestly say that “I don’t care too much for money, ‘cause money can’t buy me love?”

Or am I stuck with “Money can’t get everything it’s true – but what it don’t get I can’t use!”

There’s a great documentary called “Happy.” (Available on Netflix.) In it I heard an idea that changed my thinking about money.

“Anybody who says ‘money doesn’t buy happiness’ should go talk to somebody living under a bridge.” And immediately following that, “But anybody who says ‘money buys happiness’ should go talk to Bill Gates.”

“Neither of those things is actually true.” This was according to Daniel Gilbert, PhD.

It turns out that there is a noticeable increase in a person’s happiness when they have sufficient resources to meet their basic needs. After that, there isn’t much of an increase at all.

In other words, “The difference in happiness between a person who earns 5,000 and 50,000 is dramatic. The difference in happiness between a person who earns 50,000 and 50,000,000 is not.”

So having a whole boat load of money doesn’t actually make you happier. But being able to eat does.

One’s life does not consist of possessions. But having a safe and warm place to live sure helps.

Or maybe we say it this way: after our need for food, clothing, and shelter is met, even the richest person in the world cannot buy what they truly need. 

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