Does Money Really Make Us Happy?
A few years ago, I travelled to Peru. I wasn’t there for mission work or any noble cause, I was simply visiting to feed my love of travel, learn about a new culture, and put my recent Spanish lessons to good use. During my trip I found myself on an old school bus travelling down a dirt road. We were going to explore the Amazon basin of Peru. As we travelled deeper into the jungle region of Peru, we started coming across families and small communities who were living in sheet-metal and palm branch homes. Kids were wearing only large shirts and were running from house to house, playing with the most rudimentary toys. As I was taking all of this in for the first time something caught my eye. Every single one of these villagers, especially the children, were smiling. When we stopped and were able to meet some of these locals I was taken aback by how friendly and kind they were despite living a lifestyle which was far beneath what I was accustomed to growing up in the states.
Fast forward a number of years and I came across an intriguing research study done by Princeton University. The study was conducted to determine how a person’s financial earning power affected one’s happiness and the results brought me back to my trip to Peru. Princeton’s study concluded that a person’s perceived level of happiness did not increase after they earned $75,000 per year. What Princeton’s study and my anecdotal experience in Peru illuminated was something the Bible has been telling us for thousands of years. More won’t make us happier.
Luke 12:15 “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”
The evidence of this principle is all around us. For example, it has become almost a normal occurrence for a celebrity or sports star to throw everything they have away through alcohol and drug overdoses. Searching for happiness their fame and riches couldn’t provide. Jim Carrey was famously quoted saying “I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.” Money and possessions have the unique ability to divert our hearts away from Jesus.
If we can’t serve two masters- God and money, how do we healthily associate and use money without it getting the better of us? If more money won’t truly make us happy, the inverse is true. What we have now is enough. Contentment is the antidote to our heart’s natural propensity towards more.
Hebrews 13:5 tells us to “Keep your life free from the love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” If the antidote to greed is contentment, the key to contentment is resting in God’s promises. Blaise Pascal famously said we all have a “God-shaped hole in our hearts”, and nothing can fill that hole in the heart of the believer other than resting in the promises God has given us, such as Hebrews 13:5.
When we put our faith in the truth that God will never forsake us and that He will provide our every need, we are able to find rest in contentment because our hope and trust is not in temporary possessions that will eventually be worthless, but in the everlasting God who has promised to take care of our every need. Proving his faithfulness by sending His son to die in our place. Romans 8:32 “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all-how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?”
Eric Schrum is an advisor and partner at Schrum Private Wealth Management. Eric contributes for The Faith First Advisor, The Faith Driven Investor, and has a particular interest in helping Christians align their finances with their beliefs through wise financial planning and investing. Investment Advisor Representative of Spire Wealth Management, LLC. Advisory Services offered through Spire Wealth Management, LLC, a Federally Registered Investment Advisor. Securities offered through an affiliate, Spire Securities, LLC. Member FINRA/SIPC.