The pursuit of wealth is one of the greatest illusions of our time. We think we will be wealthy when we come to a place in our lives when we can do whatever we want with money. One might imagine this to be the freedom illustrated by the phrase “financial peace”. Wealth, however, will never be attained if it is defined as getting everything you want, because when you get what you want, you will just want more. While money can fulfill needs (and thus provide fulfillment) money can never buy happiness. I believe a person will only be able to consider themselves wealthy when they are satisfied with what they have today.
The apostle Paul writes:
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. (Philippians 4:12 NIV)
Observations about contentment:
- Contentment is learned and thus contentment is process. Are you becoming content?
- When you are content, when circumstances change you do not.
- Both the well fed and hungry are susceptible to a lack of contentment.
Here are some stats from the book Your Money and Your Brain by Jason Zweig
A survey of 800 people with a net worth of at least $500,000 found that 19% of them agreed with the statement, “Having enough money is a constant worry in my life.” But among those who are worth at least $10 million, 33% felt that way.
I love the following quote from philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer
Wealth is “like seawater: the more you drink, the thirstier you become.”
As a result of these and similar surveys and my own personal experience, here is what I believe wealth is:
Wealth is a decision fostered by an attitude of self-control. Wealth is experienced when a person has the ability to be content with God’s blessings.
If you are looking for an external measurement for wealth it will never come.
Wealth requires looking beyond the bank account.
The wealth we experience on this earth is about so much more than money. If you are just trying to build wealth like crazy, you will never get enough. If you are defining wealth in terms of acquisition of currency, it will be so hard to ever feel satisfied. Each day take time look around and see your loved ones so you can be reminded of how blessed you are.
Wealth is the ability to choose to focus your life on the truly important things. Someone might make a lot more money in their life time, but in return be burdened by meetings, appointments, and obligations – this is not wealth. Wealth is the flexibility to be involved in the things that really matter in life.
Though I might not have as much as others in the bank, I feel like the richest man in the world because I am surrounded by a family that loves me, and I’m involved in a ministry that helps people.