There are many books on money, finance, and happiness, I will not try to replicate these ideas. However, it is important to understand how money relates to a person’s overall well-being. Naturally, the lack of money can cause anguish, depression, and even marital problems. What about a surplus of money—riches? Do the rich have all the happiness they can stand? Unfortunately, they do not. Money has always motivated people to push themselves harder towards success only to find loneliness, depression, and the loss of precious time from family and friends. Finding joy seems to be an evasive adversary. However, happiness does not need to be elusive if we can discover our purpose and understand how to be content in our lives.
Discovering our purpose in life will increase pleasure to God, other people, and yourself. Gary Keller and Jay Papasan explain in their book “The One Thing, The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results”, our biggest challenge is to avoid the bottomless pit of desire, searching for the next object that will provide us happiness, is a losing plan (Keller & Papasan, 2012). Gary Keller tells a story in his book called “The Begging Bowl” that is worth repeating here.
Upon coming out of his palace one morning and encountering a beggar, a king asks, “What do you want?” The beggar laughingly says, “You ask as though you can fulfill my desire!” Offended, the king replies, “Of course I can. What is it?” The beggar warns, “Think twice before you promise anything.”
Now, the beggar was no ordinary beggar but the king’s past-life master, who had promised in their former life, “I will come to try to wake you in our next life. This life you have missed, but I will come again to help you.”
The King, not recognizing his old friend, insisted, “I will fulfill anything you ask, for I am a very powerful king who can fulfill any desire.” The beggar said, “It is a very simple desire. Can you fill this begging bowl?” “Of course!” said the king, and he instructed his vizier to “Fill the mans begging bowl with money.” The vizier did, but when the money was poured into the bowl, it disappeared. So he poured more and more, but the moment he did, it would disappear.
The begging bowl remained empty.
Word spread throughout the kingdom, and a huge crowd gathered. The prestige and power of the king were at stake, so he told his vizier, “If my kingdom is to be lost, I am ready to lose it, but I cannot be defeated by this beggar.” He continued to empty his wealth into the bowl.
Diamonds, pearls, emeralds. His treasury was becoming empty.
And yet the begging bowl seemed bottomless. Everything put into it immediately disappeared!
Finally, as the crowd stood in utter silence, the king dropped at the beggar’s feet and admitted defeat. “You are victorious, but before you go, fulfill my curiosity. What is the secret of this begging bowl?”
The beggar humbly replied, ‘There is no secret. It is simply made up of human desire.”
Happiness is not a man-made object—it is a gift from God that goes beyond our basic desires.
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose (Proverbs 8:28).
Purpose allows us to expand our simple abilities and perform at the highest level of human production. We may have several purposes throughout our lifetime, depending on the phase of life we are in. Living a life of purpose will propel us to greater rewards, which will ultimately allow us to find a measure of happiness.
Contentment does not mean to settle for mediocre; it means understanding and appreciating the blessings God provides us each day. We only need to seek the wisdom of the richest man in history, King Solomon, to uncover true happiness. Proverbs and Ecclesiastes in the Bible will help provide us some answers.
There is one who makes himself rich, yet has nothing;
And one who makes himself poor, yet has great riches (Proverbs 13:7).
He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver; Nor he who loves abundance, with increase. This also is vanity (Ecclesiastes 5:10).
In Ecclesiastes King Solomon laments about trying all sorts of man-made (under the sun) events, searching for happiness only to find his quest in vain. Finally, he concludes that happiness is only found in fearing the Lord. We translate the term fear as “in awe”.
Though a sinner does evil a hundred times, and his days are prolonged, yet I surely know that it will be well with those who fear God, who fear before Him (Ecclesiastes 8:12).
Therefore, contentment is trusting and loving God and not relying on our human abilities. It is futile to expect to find happiness without God in our lives. Contentment only comes from a deep relationship with the Lord. Money is a man-made object; therefore, it can never bring us true happiness—neither can the material possessions that money can buy.
Keller, G., & Papasan, J. (2012). The one thing: The surprisingly simple truth behind extraordinary results. Austin, TX: Bard Press.
The Holy Bible: NKJV New King James Version. (2016). Nashville, Tennessee: Holman Bible.