Will money make me happy? Ah, yes. The age-old question! You sacrifice, get out of debt, and find financial freedom. However, you still feel empty on the inside. But wait, earning more and finding financial security was supposed to bring me joy, wasn’t it? Then you begin to wonder. Can having money make me miserable?
Constantly Climbing the Happiness Ladder
From an early age, we’re continuously on a quest to become happy. After all, no one wants to live a miserable life!
In the beginning, we start trying to find things that bring us satisfaction. Maybe it’s a new toy or a TV show. Either way, it begins the thought process of, “if I only had (fill in the blank), then I’ll be happy.”
Fast-forwarding a few years, you’ll find that you’re still on a never-ending quest for happiness. “Once I’m in middle school, I’ll be happy; Once I’m in high school, I’ll be happy; after I get my driver’s license, I’ll be happy.”
Are you starting to see a pattern here? We always think we will find happiness once we reach a certain point in our lives. Therefore, it’s not unreasonable to reach a point where money becomes a source of so-called happiness.
After high school, the reality that we need money to live and get stuff becomes a reality. Suddenly, we think the root of happiness is to get more money. After all, this allows us to get more stuff. And stuff makes us happy!
Until it doesn’t. Then we need more money to get more stuff to make us happier.
However, the more stuff we accumulate, the more we realize money cannot satisfy our needs.
I listened to a caller on the Dave Ramsey Show the other day who was a millionaire. He worked hard, sacrificed, and gave generously. But he wasn’t satisfied.
Why not?! Because he discovered one of life’s greatest secrets: money will not make you happy. On the contrary, he found that having money can make you miserable!
Before going much further, I want to highlight a couple of resources that have personally helped me.
Counterfeit Gods by Timothy Keller dives deep into the realities of idolatry. In other words, anything that takes the place of God in your heart is an idol. These idols promise joy, but come up empty. Indeed, money can leave you feeling empty if it takes the place of God in your life. Learn how to combat this in Keller’s amazing book.
The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn is another great resource. Alcorn uses Scripture to show us how God is our ultimate treasure. Not only that, but treasuring God naturally results in generosity.
And finally, if you’re in debt and looking for a free resource, I wrote 23-page eBook to help you! Did I mention that this is completely FREE?! Just enter your email below and I’ll send it right to you!
Why Having Money Can Make You Miserable
So, how is it that having all the riches in the world can make you miserable? After all, rich people should have no worries and feel secure.
But what God created us for something more?
God put some of his desires in us when he made us in his image. Therefore, we’re not satisfied with worldly goods. There are deeper desires within us.
Let’s see what the Bible tells us about what truly gives someone joy, and also why having money can make you miserable.
1. You Put Your Hope and Security in Money Instead of in God
In Luke 12:13-21, Jesus tells us a parable about a rich fool. The rich man builds up his goods and has trouble deciding what to do with his ample supply of crops.
What he does is tear down his barns and builds larger ones in their place. Afterward, he says to himself, “you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”
Then God calls him a fool and requires his soul of him that night.
In other words, he dies.
So, why is this rich guy a fool? The point of the story is not that it’s wrong to save. On the contrary, the Bible tells us it’s wise to save money.
But the rich fool put all his hope and security in his goods and crops. As you can imagine, it’s possible for us to do the same thing. Once we build up our investments and live off them, it’s easy to believe we can relax.
However, that money is not the source of our security.
Instead, our security is in knowing what Christ has done for us. Our hope is in knowing what awaits us in eternity! Riches will fade away, but hope in Christ endures forever.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.”1 Peter 1:3-4
2. You Neglect the Importance of Being in Community
I once saw a movie about a man who swore to become a billionaire. Throughout his life, he made massive sacrifices to achieve his goal.
After years of hard work, his dream came true. However, he also left many friendships in tatters. And he found himself totally and utterly miserable and unsatisfied.
Throughout the Bible, we see multiple commands and examples of the necessity of community. Here are a few of them:
“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”Proverbs 27:17
“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”Galatians 6:2
“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.”1 Peter 4:1
Of course, there are many more verses on this subject. But I think you get the point. God made us to be in community with one another.
Do you know what happens to your hand if you cut it off? It dies and rots away.
Likewise, Christians who cut themselves off of the body of Christ. Eventually, they will wither away and die spiritually.
As members of the body of Christ, we need one another. When we live in community, we challenge one another, learn from one another, and ultimately point each other to Christ.
It’s okay to have money goals. But don’t allow those goals to take you away from other believers.
For more on this, read 1 Corinthians 12:12-31.
3. You Neglect Your Family
How many stories do you hear about rich parents who neglect their kids? Or ambitious fathers who neglect their families to take care of their businesses?
Unfortunately, these stories are all too common. Usually, those who sacrifice their families on money’s alter end up miserable.
Sometimes it’s necessary to spend time away from family. However, it is unbiblical to neglect investing in your spouse and children. Indeed, Scripture gives some very stern warnings about this.
“But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”1 Timothy 5:8
God intended for husbands and wives to love one another. Marriage is an image of the relationship between Christ and the church. Furthermore, the Bible consistently describes children as a blessing. It is the responsibility of the parents to raise them and nurture them well.
Do you have career goals or business goals? That’s perfectly fine! But your family is a higher calling. Don’t neglect them in pursuit of money.
4. You’re Not Generous With Your Time or Money
Do you remember Mister Scrooge from Charles Dickens’ classic, A Christmas Carol? To refresh your memory, Scrooge was a hunched-over old miser who only cared about making more money.
He neglected his employees, kicked charities out of his office, and believed Christmas was a waste of time. Although Scrooge might be an extreme example, there are still people who hold some of his characteristics.
First, let’s talk about time. Time is a precious commodity in American culture and something we don’t give up easily.
However, I’m not saying you should just throw your time at everything that comes your way. On the contrary, we need to be wise about our time.
“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”Ephesians 5:15-16
But I will say that you fulfill God’s call when you’re generous with your time. In other words, you’ll find more joy in serving and investing in others than you will if you only pursue money.
Second, let’s talk about money. The idea of a large pile of cash can bring a lot of emotions. Thoughts of security, material goods, and extravagant vacations come to mind. It’s not bad to have some of those things.
However, it’s easy to cling to those things and neglect being generous with God’s blessings. But God blesses us so we might be a blessing to others (see Genesis 12:2). Therefore, go and be a blessing!
“Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”2 Corinthians 9:6-7
5. You Allow Money to Take the Place of God in Your Heart
Above all, it’s possible to allow money to take the place of God in your heart. Truthfully, I could have made this my only point!
Scripture gives us some severe warnings about the love of money. Furthermore, it also warns about letting anything take the place of God in our hearts. There’s a word for this: idolatry.
Now, idolatry today doesn’t look like people bowing before statues in the public square. Now idolatry is wherever we place our hope, trust, and ultimate faith.
Let’s take a look at some verses about idolatry:
“Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love.” –Jonah 2:8
“Little children, keep yourselves from idols.”1 John 5:21
“Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.”1 Corinthians 10:1
For some, their idol is money. However, God designed you for much more than money. He made you to have a relationship with him.
If you allow money to take the place of God, you’ll find that having money can make you miserable. Instead, seek the true joy found in knowing God and his Son, Christ Jesus.
“In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”1 John 4:9-10
Having Money Can Make You Miserable, But It Doesn’t Have to
However, when those things become THE thing in our lives, we’ll find that having money can make us miserable.
God created us to be generous, to be in community, to love our families, and ultimately to be in relationship with him.
When we neglect these things, we don’t find true and lasting joy.
But if we pursue Christ, allow his love for us to overflow into love for others, and are generous with what he gives us, we can and will find joy instead of misery.
“And he said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.'”Matthew 22:37-40
If you want to learn more about this subject, there are two books I highly recommend:
Counterfeit Gods by Timothy Keller
The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn
Both of these books have had a huge impact on my life. They go into more detail about idolatry, joy, and the true hope found only in Christ!
And finally, don’t let having money make you miserable!
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