Managing God's Money and Happiness

 

Have you noticed that happiness is in vogue? An industry has developed about happiness. People pay to join groups to laugh...yes, to laugh. Then again, many people strive to get money because they believe it is the key to happiness. They run ahead of God to borrow or gamble to try to get what they want. But they don't realize these actions show dependence on banks or luck, rather than on God to supply their needs. Some get thousands or millions of dollars but find that is not enough.


RESEARCH SHOWS MONEY NOT SOURCE OF HAPPINESS


The late American cartoonist, humorist, and journalist Kin Hubbard once said, "It is hard to tell what does bring happiness; poverty and wealth have both failed." Research on money and happiness state consistently more money doesn't give happiness, yet folks continue to chase money even though during the chase, their health and family relations suffer.

money and happiness

Research led by University of Missouri's Kennon Sheldon found that people who say money is most important to them are the unhappiest. Princeton University's Daniel Kahneman et al's research titled, Would You Be Happier If You Were Richer? A Focusing Illusion, should cause you to stop, look, and mull over your priorities. How are you doing? Are you on a treadmill to earn as much as posssible and wrecking your relationships? Your health? I repeat, reflect on these findings in this research report. Better still, review the report in it's entirety:

  1. Most people believe they would be happier if they were richer, but survey evidence on "subjective well-being" is largely inconsistent with that belief.
  2. Using their "Day Reconstruction Method," they found income was hardly a factor with people's moment-to-moment daily experiences.
  3. Many people are highly motivated to increase income despite the weak relation between income and experienced happiness.
  4. People with higher incomes tended to devote more of their free time to tasks involving tension and stress.

HAPPINESS AND THE MEANS OF EXCHANGE

To be sure, how can you be happy with the means of exchange? Besides, how do you find lasting peace and happiness in possessions? Do you remember your first toy, first bike, or first car? You got major joy for a time, but later the novelty waned, your reaction changed, and you wanted something else, didn't you? God created you to be in a personal relationship with Him, not with belongings.

In Matthew 5:3-12 (NIV), Jesus presents a sermon on happiness called the Beatitudes, which highlights the difference between God's views of happiness and man's views:

  • Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
  • Blessed are those who mourn,for they will be comforted.
  • Blessed are the meek, for theywill inherit the earth.
  • Blessed are those who hungerand thirst for righteousness, forthey will be filled.
  • Blessed are the merciful, for theywill be shown mercy.
  • Blessed are the pure in heart, forthey will see God.
  • Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
  • Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
  • Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

The Greek word used for blessed, Makarios, means happy - happiness that's independent of circumstances. Jesus' message in these Beatitudes contradicts the world's view. His message starts with you accepting your spiritual poverty--your need for Jesus. Then it builds progressively to the happiness you will find when standing for Jesus leads to your persecution. You can't get this happiness or blessedness on your own, from religions, denominations, family history, money or stuff. You and I need Jesus! When He is in you, you can walk with Him as your guide, confident you can do everything He brings your way. You do not need to follow anything or anybody, only Jesus!

The crucial message to each of us is this: Stop striving to get stuff or to do tasks to make us happy; it doesn't work! Instead, start investing time with Jesus. Then we will be able to rest in Him, worship Him unreservedly, become more productive in our jobs, andbegin to apply our energies to do His priorities. True happiness is a deep state of contentment based on a secure personal relationship with Jesus the Messiah. It's not a superficial feeling.

You will see money's place more clearly—a means of exchange, a bridge—when you look at money triangle.

We must learn to take our eyes off financial solutions and focus on our attitude and behaviour challenges. When we take on debt to get out of debt, understand we are seeking solutions that do not address the main cause, our decisions--our attitudes, behaviours and choices (ABCs). So, if we consolidate loans, refinance mortgages, extend credit terms but end even deeper in debt, accept this result as unavoidable since we dealt with symptoms only rather than the cause: ABCs).


HAPPINESS FROM WINNING THE LOTTERY

Suppose you received a check for one million dollars tomorrow. How do you think it would affect your life? Would you feel victimized like Britain's youngest lottery winner, 17 year old Jane Park who won $1.25 million four years ago? Today, the 21-year-old claims she was too young to handle the jackpot responsibly.

Park says, "At times it feels like winning the lottery has ruined my life. I thought it would make it 10 times better, but it's made it 10 times worse. Most days I say to myself, 'My life would be so much easier if I hadn't won.'" So, Jane Park is planning to sue lottery organizers for "ruining her life." Talk about victim mentality!

Sadly, Park does not realize her problem is not age-related. According to National Endowment for Financial Education, about 70 percent of people who receive a windfall of cash suddenly, will lose it within a few years.

Contrast Jane Park's attitude with Oseola McCarty's. Quitting school in the sixth grade, for 87 years Miss McCarty washed other people's dirty clothes. She never married, and never had children, and spent almost nothing from her 50 cents per wash-load income. However, over the decades, she accumulated more than $150,000, and gave $150,000 to finance scholarships at her local university.

So, what's the main difference between Park and McCarty? Surely, not money, but their attitudes to money. What it is, and what it does to your security.