Money/Contentment Part III – How much is enough?

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Someone in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” But He said to him, ” Man, who appointed Me a judge or arbitrator over you?” Then He said to them, ” Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.And He told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man was very productive. “And he began reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’ “Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. ‘And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.”‘ “But God said to him, ‘ You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?“So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”

Luke 12:13-21 (NASB)

Andrew Carnegie is reported to once have been asked the question, “How much money does a man have to have in order to be satisfied?” to which he replied “Just a little more than he has.” The problem with money and wealth is that none is enough to satisfy; if you do not believe this, just watch the news a while.  I frequently see very wealthy men (and women) with just about everything materially one could dream of, but in the news caught in affairs and other situations.  One professional athlete recently was arrested for shoplifting.  What is truly amazing is when you see famous wealthy people, married to models, caught in affairs.  Money never quenches the thirst for greed, be it greed for money or greed for sex.  Greed is insatiable.

My wife and I were recently having an evening out, and decided to eat in the bar area of a local restaurant.  A while into our date, another group of people sat down at the table near us.  They were obviously meeting to discuss some personal business.  At first, I thought they were discussing getting one of the couples a new (or newer) car at an auto auction.  Soon I realized they were doing something to make money with the auto’s bought at the auction.  As I listened, I realized some of what they were doing.  One couple at the table had done this before and were talking about all the money they can all do together.  I could not hear all of what they were saying, but something they were doing was obviously a little illegal I could tell.  Then I realized the one experienced couple had discovered how to buy these autos at auction, sell them to a buyer financing it for the buyer, then repossess the car legally even if the buyer was not behind on the payments.  And this man was talking about what a rush it was to watch a buyer go into their apartment while they drive off in their car.  They then sell this auto multiple times repeating the process.  The new couple was entering this business venture with them…yes, these people are exactly who I would want to get involved with even in a legitimate business; its kind of like the people I have seen cheating on a spouse – do they not think these folks will not likewise do that to them when the opportunity arises?!  These are examples of people who think money will make them happy.

How many Christians are doing exactly what the Jesus warned about in our passages above?  How many of us are thinking, Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.” But many of these Christians, by the standards and teachings of the prosperity gospel, tithers?  They give their 10% to God, then take the other 90% and splurge it on themselves without one inkling that God intrusted that wealth to them to be used as a blessing to others in need.

In this parable, we see a man who has an opportunity to ask Jesus anything he wanted to ask.  But he chooses to ask something intended from his heart to feed his greed.  Jesus sees this, and in pointing this out in this mans own heart makes it clear that wealth and materialism are temporary things.  I have often heard it said that no one ever sees a U-Haul trailer hitched to a hearse.

I have known few Christians who were content, and I must confess this is one of my strongest weaknesses myself.  God continues to teach me this truth in my own life.  The puritan pastor Jeremiah Burroughs wrote a book The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment and showed not only is contentment a precious jewel but a very rare one at that.  If you find a Christian who is not content with what they have (be it job, wife/husband, money, things, etc.) then they are very unhappy.  And what is more amazing is if you deal with this person about their resulting depression they will strongly object 9 of 10 times when you suggest that their depression is the result of sin! Most American Christians do not understand that a lack of contentment is sin, pure and simple.  And this sin often is expressed as deep depression in most of us; I know it does in me for sure!

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.

2 Cor 8:9 (NASB)

A truly rich person is one who understands that being content it true wealth.

For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ” Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

Romans 8:14-18 (NASB)

SIZE MATTERS!  Marvin Huddleston and his 18″ Starmaster Newtonian Telescope in 2002 at the Texas Star Party

Amateur Astronomers are awesome examples of Christians who have not learned contentment.  It is impossible to be a content Amateur Astronomer.  If an astronomer has a 3″ telescope, they want a 6″.  If they have a 6″, they want a 12″.  If they have a 12″, they want a 24″, and if a 24″ a 48″ would be nice.  And even if they have the biggest telescope at the Star Party, they always want yet another eyepiece to fine-tune those incredible images.  You see, the larger (and better) the optics are on a telescope the more and better you can see.  Every inch of aperture is cherished to the astronomer.  I always loved my telescopes, and never had enough aperture, even when I owned a computerized 18″ Newtonian.  It was awesome, but the views in that 36″ at a Star Party blew my view of the same object away if the optics were comparable.  However, in material things, the Christian always has the right aperture.  Unlike the view through a telescope, the content Christians view can never be improved upon.

If anyone ever tells you that you deserve to be wealthy and happy, they are not telling you the truth.  We do not deserve that, any more than we deserve to be heirs with Christ, which is true wealth.  If you are depressed, search your heart and see if there are any sin issues you can find, like discontentment, that might be at the root source.  Scripture does not anywhere promise you that being a follower of Christ will assure you of wealth and happiness; rather is tells us that the suffering we will endure are not worthy of being compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.  There are no magical formulas to be rich and happy in this world.  If you are a follower of Christ you will suffer.

The question is will you be content and thus truly happy?  Join me, as I continue to learn this lesson from God, even in the absence of a telescope!






This post was written by

kc5lei – who has written 50 posts on One Flesh Ministries.

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