Well, according to a London survey, it takes–for the average person–about 1.5 million dollars to make one happy. One NBC analyst says that by knowing you make more than the Joneses next door, you are likely to be quite happy. As usual, we give our thanks to the experts.
Are they better informed than the Lord and the inspired writers? Jesus taught, “Beware, and be on guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions” (Luke 12:15). Your life does not consist of your possessions. Jesus warns us to ward off such thinking and the selfish, covetous behavior it spawns. He is saying, “You cannot measure who you are and what you are about by checking your bank balance.”
King David says, “Better is the little of the righteous than the abundance of many wicked” (Psalm 37:16). One might conclude from this that one, financially modest Christian is wealthier than all the worldly, howbeit financially richer neighbors. That runs contrary to NBC’s money guru, doesn’t it? What could be “better” than being financially set? Solomon says “the fear of the Lord” (Prov. 15:16). He says “righteousness” is better (Prov. 16:8; i.e., upright character and moral living). He says “peace and quiet” are better (Prov. 17:1). He says “integrity” is better (Prov. 19:1). He says “love is” better (Song 4:10).
Heavenly standards are superior to those of earth’s sagest experts. Jesus identifies an extremely poor widow as one having more (in the ways that count to heaven) than the wealthiest citizens of Jerusalem in her day (cf. Mark 12:42-44). The world has its values turned upside down, and it seeks to sway the Christian’s thinking on the matter, too. Believe this. Having more than your neighbor will not bring you lasting happiness, in and of itself. Seeing $1.5 million or more on your bank statement will not supply you the peace that passes understanding. Don’t trust me. What do I know? Believe the Lord!
Somehow, it has come down through the ages that Alexander the Great made this dying request, that he should be buried with his hands outside his coffin so that all his subjects could see that despite all the riches he had accumulated in life that he left the world empty-handed. Artists through time have famously depicted this posture. It has been retold repeatedly. Whether or not Alexander requested it, the sentiment reflects divine truth. Paul told Timothy, “For we have brought nothing into this world, so we cannot take anything out of it either” (1 Tim. 6:7). Similarly, Job said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there” (Job 1:21). Solomon similarly states of the wealthy, “As he had come naked from his mother’s womb, so will he return as he came. He will take nothing from the the fruit of his labor that he can carry in his hand” (Ecc. 5:15).
While even world conquerors cannot transport their treasures from time to eternity as they make the transition, everyone will exit the world having left so many things behind us. We leave behind so much more than our financial assets. We leave behind memories of ourselves, encouragements either given or withheld, speech either edifying or destructive, deeds which brought others closer to or further from Christ, family members influenced either to follow Christ or abandon Him, and similarly impactful matters. When we leave earth, our hands are empty. We have bequeathed all that we are and have for those whose lives we touched and influenced. They pick up our habits, worldview, pleasures, interests, and priorities. Some day, they will die and leave empty-handed, too, passing along what in some way we gave them to give.
You may never be a world conqueror, but here is how you conquer the world. It takes faith and spiritual rebirth (1 Jn. 5:4). But do not simply possess it. Be sure to pass it along.
What do I need to make for joy?
To beat those troubles that annoy?
Can it be bought or taken from others?
What would I get if I had my druthers?
Would I find it in possessions, investments, land?
A car that’s new or a house that’s grand?
That perfect someone to make me satisfied?
A high position to feed my pride?
When I have seen some with hardly a possession
Who know nothing of materialistic obsession
Anonymous to paparazzi and heads of state
Facing perils and diseases with no way to abate
Living contentedly, day after day
Trusting God gladly to provide them a way
Loving their neighbors and spiritual siblings
All without virtue of a bevy of things
That tells me something, I’d better take notice
Of something the apostle Paul long ago wrote us,
“Whether you have or don’t, or you spend or are spent,
Whatever you face, in life be content.”