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Money and Happiness



American stand-up comic Henry Youngman, once said, “What's the use of happiness? It can't buy you money.”


Actress Bo Derek gave another perspective when she said, “Whoever said money can't buy happiness simply didn't know where to go shopping!”


And British comedian Spike Milligan put it another way; “Money can't buy happiness, but it can get you a more pleasant form of misery!”


Oddly enough, the word “contentment” occurs seven times in the Bible, and in six of them the context is money.


It is sometimes noted that Jesus spoke more about money than about almost anything else. It was he who said that our attitude towards money is a gauge of spiritual health. “For where your treasure is there your heart will also be.” (Matthew 6.21).

 

No wonder; it impacts so many aspects of our lives; earning, budgeting, saving, spending, hording, wasting, gambling, running up debt and giving.


He also said that managing our personal finances well is a requirement for being given spiritual responsibility. “If you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?” (Luke 16.11). Paul said the same thing another way when he insisted that local church leaders must, among other things, not be lovers of money (1 Timothy 3.3).


When Jesus questioned people on how serious they were about following him, he sometimes did so in the very un-British way of bringing up the subject of money.


Three examples spring to mind: Firstly, “Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Luke 18.22).


Secondly, “No one can serve two masters; either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matthew 6.24).


And thirdly: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” (Mark 10.25).


I once challenged a congregation (in a very un-British way) from the pulpit to conduct an experiment to determine if God can be trusted. I noticed people perked up with interest at what might come next.

 

Since God permits us - indeed invites us - to test him in Malachi 3.10 by tithing and then seeing if he will pour out abundant blessing afterwards,” I said, “I invite anyone who has never given the Lord their first tenth of their monthly income to start doing so from this month on, and then see if he disappoints them afterwards.”

 

I then noticed how people suddenly looked noticeably less enthusiastic than they had a minute earlier! I get it. For anyone who has never done this before, it is terrifying. What if it doesn’t work for me? Isn’t this irresponsible given my situation? What if it plunges me into debt? Then what?


So I proposed a three-month trial. The deal? You give God your first 10% and pray that he will bless you and provide for you in such a way that the remaining 90% goes further during that time. If, at the end of three months, anyone felt that God had not blessed them as he has promised, the church treasurer would refund them every penny. No questions asked, no judging, no assumption of failure… all your money back, case closed.


Three months on, I learned that no one had claimed a refund from the treasurer. Because, he told me with sadness in his eyes, not one person had dared to take up the challenge.

 

Would you have done? What do you think the way you handle money and possessions says about your faith? How could you glorify God more in the way you earn, spend, save and give?


John Lambert

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