The one who loves money will never be satisfied with money,
he who loves wealth will never be satisfied with his income.
This also is futile.
The author of Ecclesiastes has a bleak outlook on life. If you can think of something that might make someone happy, chances are he’s written something about it being meaningless (or “vanity,” as older translations said). And if it’s not named specifically, rest assured the book begins with the assertion “everything is meaningless,” so it’s covered. Looking around at all the things people do, he concludes that our lives are filled with things which offer no purpose or meaning.
Among these things is the pursuit of wealth.
These words were written around 3,000 years ago, but they could just as easily have been penned today. When we look at our own lives, the way wealth consumes us and leaves us unsatisfied is practically our national pastime. You and I are taught to have a specific image of what happiness looks like, and the way to complete that image is to accrue enough wealth and assets to afford it. Somewhere along the way, though, we lose sight of the image of happiness, and instead focus on wealth accumulation. If we do manage to complete the image (many of us never do), it’s already been replaced with something bigger, requiring more wealth. That cycle only ever repeats itself.
Research has repeatedly shown that happiness peaks at an annual income between $60,000 and $95,000. But many of us are taught that a six figure income is the base line for happiness. For those who do cross that barrier, it turns out happiness is not waiting for them. So they pursue more and more, trying to find the number that will make them happy, not realizing they’d passed it long ago and the things they’re doing now in pursuit of more are lowering their overall happiness.
When we tie happiness to money, we are never happy.
And most of us have tied happiness to money, so we are never happy.
What would it look like if, instead of living in service to money, we lived according to our values, and made our money serve us?
This past Sunday’s sermon challenged us to spy on our money and see if the way we used it was aligned with our personal values.
Have you spied on your money?
What have you seen?
What changes might the future hold for putting your money to work for you and your principles, rather than the other way around?