“I had every single thing I could’ve ever wanted…and when I got everything I wanted, I think I was the most empty that I’ve ever felt inside.”
By: Tim McLaughlin, CFP®, CKA®
You are rich. No, seriously. By global standards, you are rich.
Let me explain.
If you live alone and have an annual, post-tax household income of $37,500, you are in the richest 3% of the global population and your income is more than 13.3 times the global median. If you live with another person, $63,500 of combined income would keep you in the top 3%.
Let's say you and your spouse have 2 children. $78,500 still keeps you within the top 5% of the global population and more than 10 times the global median. Click here to see where you come out.
"That's all well and good," you might say, "but it doesn't feel like I'm rich."
Sadly, many corporations and advertising agencies are in the business of attempting to make you feel that very way - discontent. "If you just had that car, or their home, or the next piece of jewelry, then you would finally be happy," you say to yourself.
It's a lie as old as time. Don't buy the lie - literally. No amount of money or possessions can make you happy. Have you ever seen a U-Haul behind a hearse? We won’t be taking our stuff with us! But in the meantime, there’s no shortage of opportunities to idolize money and possessions.
According to pastor and author Tim Keller, an idol is defined as: “anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your affections more than God, or anything you seek to give you only what only God can give you.” And idols are in the false advertising business, as author Matt Smethurst pointed out.
Look no further than former Texas A&M quarterback and Heisman trophy winner, Johnny Manziel. He took the college football world by storm in 2012 and 2013, rising to widespread fame and riches. However, he recently said, “I had every single thing I could’ve ever wanted…and when I got everything I wanted, I think I was the most empty that I’ve ever felt inside.”
When you're on your death bed, what will you most regret? Let me gently suggest that it will not be that you didn't buy a fancier car, or a bigger house or an expensive piece of jewelry. Instead, perhaps you will regret not mending your relationship with your sister, or spending more time with your children, or caring for your aging parent.
Jonathan Edwards said, "The most foolish thing we can do is treat the temporal like it will last forever and treat the eternal as something we can postpone until later."
"So money doesn't matter, then?" you might say.
Much to the contrary. Money in and of itself is neutral and temporal. It is not inherently good, nor evil. However, what you do with it and how you view it has lasting implications and eternal significance. It has been said that money is a test, a testimony, and a tool. "To whom much is given, much is expected." (Luke 12:48)
There's no escaping money this side of eternity. We will continue to earn, buy and sell as long as we live. Money is a daily part of our lives. However, what if we focused more on stewarding it well and holding it loosely, as opposed to fixating on what we don’t have or how much someone else has? The apostle Paul leaves us with some wise words:
“Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to set their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life." 1 Timothy 6: 17-19
Sources: Giving What We Can