In the never-enough world, the myth that having more will make one happy is preached as though it were the gospel truth. Nearly every time I open a magazine, turn on the television or talk to a neighbor, I am bombarded with the message that having more will provide the answers to life’s fundamental questions and satisfy the longing of my soul.
Having more will make me happy is a lie. The acquisition and accumulation of more is a cruel hoax that may provide a temporary surge in emotions, but it never lasts. Having more is like seawater. The more one drinks of it, the thirstier one becomes. It is never enough. It will never satisfy. It will not bring lasting happiness.
I am not implying that we should not have more spacious homes, greater bank accounts, and more people attending churches. I am solely issuing a warning that those things do not satisfy our souls or erase our emptiness. I am most vulnerable to the myth that having more will make me happy when I drift from the relationships for which I was created.
I was created to have a relationship with God.
I am a relational being designed first to be in a relationship with God. Just as my hereditary characteristics are embedded in the structure of my chromosomes, so my relational-ness is embedded in the DNA of my soul. I was made for God, and until I find God, there will be a vacant spot in my soul. I may try to fill that emptiness by acquiring more things, but I need to understand: There will never be enough material things to satisfy the longings of the human soul.
Having more has severe limitations.
Life would be difficult without an income-producing job and a home that provides shelter and warmth. But having more does have its limitations. I can have more clothes, but it does not produce true beauty. I can experience exotic vacations, but it does not give me the ability to relax and sleep. I can own a big house, but it does not produce a happy family. I can belong to sports clubs, but it does not make for happy children.
Simplicity is not something for by-gone eras.
When I engage in a relationship with Jesus, I put him in his rightful and exalted place in my heart. When he is first, it causes me to view my longing for more from a new and different perspective. And from that vantage point, the things that I thought I needed are not that important. In fact, I learn that I can live without many of the things I thought I so desperately needed.
Albert Schweitzer was a medical missionary who died in 1965 at the age of 90. His standard attire was a white pith helmet, white shirt and pants, and a black tie. He had worn one hat for forty years, the tie for twenty. Told one day that some men owned dozens of neckties, Schweitzer remarked, “For one neck?”
When Jesus is in his rightful place, it will prompt me to think of what I have, what I need, and without what I can live. Consequently, I may have to perform some subtracting and simplifying of my life. G. K. Chesterton has pointed out, “There are two ways to get enough. One is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less.”
And when I desire less stuff I have more contentment. Which, by the way, is the most profitable.
Contentment lies not is what is mine, but in whose I am. When I come into a relationship with God through his Son, Jesus Christ, I understand who I am and what I have.
John Stott wrote, “Contentment is the secret of inward peace. It remembers the stark truth that we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. Life, in fact, is a pilgrimage from one moment of nakedness to another. So we should travel light and live simply. Our enemy is not possessions, but excess. Our battle cry is not ‘Nothing!’ but ‘Enough!’ We’ve got enough. Simplicity says, if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.”
Remember what matters most.
Contrary to the myth of having more, it isn’t the ones who die with the most toys who win. It is those who have loved their families well and know the joy of having that love returned. It is those who have known what it is to spend their lives for a purpose that is greater than themselves. It is those who know their God and await eternity with him.
Rudyard Kipling once told a class of graduating seniors, “Be certain that you do not care too much for the material because someday you will meet someone who does not care for it at all. Then you will recognize just how poor you really are.” The real measure of wealth is how much I would be worth if I lost all my stuff. I have started measuring my value not by the things I have, but by the things for which I would not take money.
And, that’s not a bad measuring stick.
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