How much money is enough?
Phil Ronzheimer, Lead Pastor,
Little Falls Alliance Church
According to a June 2006 study spearheaded by Princeton economist Alan Krueger and Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman, once you reach a certain income level, more money does not contribute significantly to well-being and may actually result in more stress and less bliss.
According to the study, “The belief that high income is associated with good mood is widespread but mostly illusory. People with above-average income are barely happier than others in moment-to-moment experience, tend to be more tense, and do not spend more time in particularly enjoyable activities.”
The study found a weaker-than-expected correlation between income and moment-to-moment happiness.
Blogger Jay MacDonald writes, “While we like to think we’re just a lotto combination away from solving all of life’s problems, experts agree that money itself has very little to do with living happily ever after.”
In the Biblical book of Ecclesiastes, one of the wealthiest men of all time, Solomon, wrote, “There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother. There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes were not content with his wealth. ‘For whom am I toiling,’ he asked, ‘and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?’ This too is meaningless—a miserable business!” (Ecclesiastes 4:8) A little later, Solomon continues, “Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless.” (Ecclesiastes 5:10)
Again and again Solomon tells us from experience that phenomenal business success, staggering wealth and scintillating sexual exploits do not bring happiness and contentment. Listen to Solomon:
“I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor. Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.” (Eccl. 2:10-11)
Take a good look at those words: “everything was meaningless,” “a chasing after the wind; “ “nothing was gained under the sun.”
Benjamin Franklin wrote, “Money has never made man happy, nor will it. There is nothing in its nature to produce happiness. The more of it one has the more one wants.”
In his autobiography, the legendary savior of Chrysler, Lee Iacocca, wrote, “Here I am in the twilight of my life, still wondering what it’s all about. I can tell you this, fame and fortune is for the birds.”
Fact: the possessions, thrills, accomplishments, and trophies of this world do not bring or provide ultimate satisfaction.
Wealth does not guarantee happiness or contentment. There are countless illustrations of this truth. But Solomon has one more thing to say on the subject, “Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work — this is a gift of God.” (Eccl. 5:19) What? Is this double talk? Is Solomon talking out of both sides of his mouth? No! Not at all! Solomon’s point is that the dogged pursuit of wealth as a means of finding happiness and contentment is futile. But when we humble ourselves before God and recognize our blessings as gifts from his hand, then we can truly enjoy them.
The power of enjoyment comes from the hand of God as we live in the will of God. The New Testament puts it this way: “Godliness with contentment is great gain.”