How to Buy Happiness

by Michael Corthell

Shining a light and talking about money management in any moral context such as creating wealth, controlling the weight of debt, and investing income, can be like lighting a match, to light candle, next to a case of dynamite. Money is like any other tool— it can be used for good, to create something good or used to destroy—the use depends on the mindset of the user. It is very easy to let a healthy interest in asset/money management become an unhealthy obsession with materialism.

''The love of money causes all kinds of evil. Some people have turned away from what we believe because they want to get more and more money. But they have caused themselves a lot of pain and sorrow.''
1 Timothy 6:10
Today we will explore the ways God wants us to view money as a means of exchange and investment, plus our attitude toward material goods. As with practically everything in life good management is all about balance.

Without a positive and divine mindset we can fall easy prey to those who teach a non-biblical and ungodly view of money management. These immoral teaching are manifested in two ways and they are extremes: 

At one end there are those who preach 'Christian Prosperity'. This prosperity teaching, is just an ecclesiastical form of greed and gluttony. At the other extreme are those who teach and strongly suggest that you deny yourself physical comforts and/or take a vow of poverty. Again, as is the case with all things in God's kingdom, we must strive for balance in all things, and that of course includes money.

Money management is talked about quite a bit in the Christian gospels. In the scripture below we can see that Jesus' (God incarnate) ministry was well financed by some of his followers:

''The next day, Jesus traveled through some cities and small towns. Jesus told the people a message from God, the Good News about God’s kingdom. The twelve apostles were with him. There were also some women with him. Jesus had healed these women of sicknesses and evil spirits. One of them was Mary, who was called Magdalene. Seven demons had come out of her. Also with these women were Joanna, the wife of Chuza (the manager of Herod’s property), Susanna, and many other women. These women used their own money to help Jesus and his apostles.'' 
—Luke 8:1-3

Also, through the use of parables, Jesus (God incarnate) used wealthy people as examples. It took cash for the good Samaritan to care for an injured man on the roadside: ''The Samaritan had a donkey. He put the hurt man on his donkey, and he took him to an inn. There he cared for him. The next day, the Samaritan took out two silver coins and gave them to the man who worked at the inn. He said, ''Take care of this hurt man. If you spend more money on him, I will pay it back to you when I come again.''''

Many times I've spoken with very well meaning Christian and other very faithful people from other religions who said to me that the ability to earn money and create wealth is somehow less worthy than the capacity to preach the word of God or spreading the message of God.  When that happens I simply ask a question or two: Where does the money come from to do God's work on Earth, in this material plane of existence? Does it take money to finance churches, synagogues, temples and mosques, plus pay staff salaries? Build schools and hospitals. Feed the hungry? 

After I get the 'right' answers' to those questions, I then paraphrase this passage:

''God has given me a special gift, and that is why I have something to say to each one of you. Don’t think that you are better than you really are. You must see yourself just as you are. Decide what you are by the faith God has given each of us. Each one of us has one body, and that body has many parts.

These parts don’t all do the same thing. In the same way, we are many people, but in Christ(with God) we are all one body. We are the parts of that body, and each part belongs to all the others.

[and] We all have different gifts. Each gift came because of the grace God gave us. Whoever has the gift of prophecy should use that gift in a way that fits the kind of faith they have. Whoever has the gift of serving should serve. Whoever has the gift of teaching should teach. Whoever has the gift of comforting others should do that. Whoever has the gift of giving to help others should give generously. Whoever has the gift of leading should work hard at it. Whoever has the gift of showing kindness to others should do it gladly.

Your love must be real. [you all must] Hate what is evil. Do only what is good.''
Romans 12:3-9

For of believers, people of Faith, we need to remember this:

We cannot allow anything to get between God and us, or we will get in trouble morally speaking.

In today’s materialistic, money driven society people of Faith must be very wary.  Our secular culture tells us that our value and human worth is based on our bank accounts and its resulting power.

Everywhere and all around us we see all kinds of people from all walks of life and Faith who are building lives on conspicuous consumption — acquiring stuff. This stuff may represent security but the greed for it, and the gluttony of it, fills a space inside us that is reserved for our Creator. There in lies the true danger: the worship of a dead, golden idol. Dickins', ''A Christmas Carol'' illustrates this danger (and its antidote) perfectly.

So, great wealth can be a blessing from God, but it can also be a punishment (or at the very least a teaching tool). With wealth(and its resulting power) comes responsibility.  Jesus(God incarnate) reminds us that, ''Whoever has been given much will be responsible for much. Much more will be expected from the one who has been given more.''Luke 12:48 (read also the 'parable of the talents, a key teaching.)

Wealthy and faithful people have many temptations and spiritual battles when managing the money they have earned, there is no getting around it, although earned money is much easier to mindfully manage than unearned money, such as inherited wealth, sudden windfall(lottery), or found money. About the only way to deflect the so called lottery curse, is to earmark a very large percentage of that money for charitable purposes. (to understand the very real reason for this 'curse', read Compensation by Emerson).

To wrap up this teaching let's go back to Dickins', ''A Christmas Carol'' for a moment.  Ebenezer Scrooge's realization, what really dawned on him, as the Ghost of Christmas future beckoned him to read his own head stone, was this: ''The guy who dies with the most money is still dead.'' (Watch the video below on a modern version of Scrooge Cure.)

How to Buy Happiness
by Michael Norton

Michael Norton shares fascinating research on how money can indeed buy happiness — when you don't spend it on yourself. Listen for surprising data on the many ways pro-social spending can benefit you, your work, and (of course) other people.