Are you unhappy because you want what others have? Maybe it seems that everyone has more and nicer things than you. They’ve got the newest electronic gadgets, like the cell phone that accesses the internet, fixes their breakfast, drives them to work, does their taxes and sings them to sleep. Or the newest big-screen plasma TV the size of a picture window.
It seems everyone has newer vehicles and bigger, nicer houses. They take trips to exotic, far away places when all you can do is muster an occasional trip to the mall. Americans are consumed with consuming. Buy early and buy often. Our capitalist market-driven economy adds to the delusion that happiness is just another couple of purchases away.
But the apostle Paul says happiness doesn’t come with the accumulation of material things. Paul tells a young preacher named Timothy that, “godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Tim. 6:6) Contentment—being satisfied—seems like a foreign concept in the U.S.
Paul goes on to tell Timothy, in verse 8, something that completely contradicts today’s thinking: “And having food and raiment, let us be therewith content.” Having the necessities of life should satisfy us. Today, we’re accustomed to such a high standard of living that we want more and more and more. Yet contentment eludes us. And that means happiness eludes many of us. People are unhappy as they seek satisfaction through material things, because there are always more things to buy, and other people will always have more than you or I do.
In First Timothy 6:9, Paul warns against a life spent pursuing wealth. “But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.”
“But I’m not trying to be rich,” you may object. “I just like having nice things.”Paul doesn’t have in mind some government determined level of wealth, qualifying you as rich. He’s warning against a mind-set—spending your life pursuing material things. You don’t have to want Donald Trump’s wealth and lifestyle to chase riches.
Seek happiness and contentment in the right places. Put God first in your life and serve Him. Focus on your responsibilities to your family. Spend time with your wife, or husband, your kids, your grandkids. It won’t make you rich in this world’s goods, but it just might make you happy. And that’s worth more than everything you can buy.