On April 25, 2012

Money Does Buy Happiness (just not the way you think)

I love TED. This video is done by Michael Horton, and his premise is that we have all heard a million times that money can’t buy you happiness. That’s wrong. And I agree with him. He’s a professor of business at Harvard University, and he is spot on. The thing that we forget about money is that, at least according to Jesus, money is not just some neutral commodity. It is a principality and power, and it can be used for great good or great harm.

This is at the heart of the counter-intuitive nature of the Kingdom of God. There is a powerful bent to serve ourselves. So we spend and spend and accumulate more and more, and we are more miserable than ever. This is the secret of the Kingdom Jesus’ preached. It’s not that God doesn’t love rich people, or that God is secretly on the side of socialism…it’s that God knows what we tend to forget. The promises that our “stuff” makes, are impossible to keep.

That T.V., that bigger house, that newer car, may serve a purpose, but it will almost always leave you feeling a little less full of life than you thought.

Just this morning, I was driving to work thinking about this. We give a fair amount to church, non-profits and individuals, but really our giving is disproportional to the amount we have. That is, we give just enough to feel good about being generous, without the sacrifice that is needed to actually become more generous. I was rolling all of this around in my head this morning, and had a few ideas about what our next steps should be. We have cable in our home, way too much cable in fact, we have more channels than anyone could ever watch. And let’s be honest, there’s only so many reality tv shows about people making cakes competitively that a person can stand.

But that’s kind of indicative of our culture. Whenever we have “extra” money our natural bent is to expand our lifestyles. So we eventually have jobs we don’t like to buy junk we don’t need.  And it all promised to make us more happy, but for some reason it all feels so empty. But the way of Jesus is very different than that. It says that the more you share your resources and means with others, the more satisfied and content you are with life. The more you sacrifice, the more you realize that it was no sacrifice at all.

I’ve noticed the difference between money our family spends to be generous to others, and the money we spend on ourselves. There is a sense in which the money we spend internally has a very short-lived life-span. We spend the money on the movie tickets…and then 2 hours later that’s it. We rarely reflect back on that wonderful time we went to Red Lobster, but generosity….that’s something that we will talk about forever. 

And if that’s true, then the question I’m starting to ask is why does our budget not reflect it? If this is how God wired up the universe than why aren’t his people known more for being the most generous people? And so it’s time to make some changes to our budget…starting with our cable.

I am not telling this to brag, or blow trumpets before we give.There is more that we could do, and more sacrifices that I believe God may be calling us to make…not from guilt, but for joy. I’m telling you this because I think it might help someone else.

Money can buy happiness. Just not the way we’ve been trying.

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  • Casey Mccollum

    we got rid of cable 2 1/2 years ago. I can’t see us ever going back. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1667167317 Kathy Morris

    I also dropped my cable commitment to just the basic channels.
    The only thing I really miss is in the spring and summer, maybe into the fall –
    Rangers baseball, also Houston baseball AND San Diego football/baseball especially yesterday and today in light of Junior Seau’s death. Can’t seem to quit crying. He was more than just a football player to San Diego and environs – he WAS San Diego – he loved kids!!  I pray his foundations are going to survive his suicide. He was a faithful member of The Rock church in San Diego County – Still can’t process this. But back to your topic, well maybe Jr. is part of your topic. A man that seemed to have everything …. but it all turned out to be useless in helping over a very nasty rough spot. Forgive me, Jonathan for sorta stealing your topic, sorta did.  In His love I’m praying for you while you bask in the beauty of So. California @ Pepperdine. But hurry back. We miss you!  :o)

  • http://mattdabbs.wordpress.com/ Matt Dabbs

    I have a friend who does investments for the wealthy. He says that of all his clients there is only one family that doesn’t bicker and argue all the time. The happiest people I have ever met also had the least and some of the saddest people I have met have much. There is a correlation between wealth and happiness and it is a negative correlation. As $ goes up, happy goes down. It doesn’t have to be that way but people lack the perspective like what you shared in this post to be able to pull it off.