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God and Money, part 2: How Much Is Enough?

John D. Rockefeller was once asked how much money it would take to be satisfied.  He answered, “Just a little bit more!” — Richard Foster

There are 2 ways to get enough: one is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less. — G.K. Chesterton


I’ve heard many people talk about money worries. Some are struggling to keep up with rental payments and car repairs. Some own homes (one or more) and have money for travel abroad , but they’re still afraid that they don’t have enough to retire on, or feel deprived because they can’t afford the things or the experiences that some of their neighbors have.

Many of these people also talk about the things they’d like to do with their lives if they didn’t have to worry about money. They say they’d spend more time in the natural world, create more, volunteer more, take time to develop a closer relationship with God…

We live in a culture that is constantly telling us that we don’t have enough money. Not enough to buy the right things to attain happiness. Not enough to securely provide for us in our old age, or if we should fall ill, or …  Sometimes I think this message is ludicrously false; there’s something ridiculous or pathetic about most of the population of this incredibly rich nation feeling anxious and materially deprived. Sometimes I think this message is actually true. We can’t ever have enough money to buy enough things to make us happy, because buying things doesn’t lead to lasting happiness. We can’t  ever have enough money to keep us safe, because the financial system could collapse, removing all our supposed safeguards.

We need to remember that there is no earthly security, never has been and never will be; that we are all safe in God’s hands, or none of us are safe at all. Given this, there are still things we can do to make our day-to-day lives more sustainable and less anxious. We can desire less stuff and take more satisfaction in what is freely given to us—the beauty of the world, the loving connections with family, friends and neighbors, the ability to make music and stories and food, the presence of God.  We can provide for more of our own needs directly so we needn’t buy everything. We can seek God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness and remember that what we need—if not all that we want—will be added unto us.

 

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