Wouldn’t life be so much simpler if we each knew exactly what we want out of life and exactly what we had to do to achieve it? If that were the case, our lives would be so much simpler and our stress levels would be at zero. Families would probably get along better and our finances would fall into place as if by magic.
Since we went through our financial turmoil 30 years ago, we’ve watched many families struggle with their finances and as a result of their family relationships which led to problems with life in general.
Why do people seem to struggle so much financially?
It seems most people are on a never-ending quest to be happy. They want to earn enough money to be happy. In reality, money will never bring long-lasting happiness. Once you have earned your dream salary, it does not seem to be enough for you to be happy. Your dreams have changed. Now you need more money. By the time you reach your next goal, the goal has changed again
It’s never ending wild goose chase because each time you reach one financial goal, your perceptions of how much is enough have expanded to fit your increased income. Each financial gain just moves the bar indicating financial happiness one step further away. We know because we lived it. Every time we reached one goal, the finish line seemed to move too.
An article by Peter Dunn in USA Today said that what people really want in their financial lives is self-control so they can feel that they are in charge of their life. He speculates that buying something you can’t afford with a credit card is an artificial form of self-control.
After many years of struggle, I believe Peter is on the right track. But he stopped one step short of the answer. Self-control is definitely a major strategic piece to the puzzle, but I believe that what everyone is searching for without realizing it is contentment.
Advertisers are in the business of getting us to be discontent and the more we are exposed to advertising, the more discontent we become. Watching TV, surfing the web, looking at catalogs, and reading magazines, expose us to those advertisers whose job it is to make us discontent.
The word “contentment” is mentioned several times in Scripture, and many times it has to do with money and possessions. In Philippians 4:11-13, Paul wrote: “I have learned to be content with whatever I have. I know what it is to have little and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and going hungry, of having plenty and being in need.”
Take note that Paul “learned” to be content. It wasn’t automatic. Contentment didn’t suddenly show up after Paul’s conversion experience. The fact is none of us are born intuitively content; rather, we learn to be content.
Biblical contentment is not to be equated with laziness or apathy. Biblical contentment is an inner peace that accepts what God has chosen for our present vocation, station in life, and financial situation. Hebrews 13:5 (GNT) emphasizes this: “Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, ‘I will never leave you; I will never abandon you.’”
To learn how to be content, begin by analyzing what triggers your desire. Are you yearning for what everyone else has? Or do you spend time thinking about all the stuff you could buy if only you had more money?
First, Timothy 6:8 issues this challenging statement: “If we have food and clothing, we shall be content with that.” Our culture has restated this verse to read, “If you can afford the finest food, wear the latest fashions, drive the newest luxury automobile, play with all the most up-to-date electronic gadgets, and live in a beautiful home, then you will be happy.” Our consumption-oriented society operates on the assumption that more is always better, and that happiness is based on a constant quest to acquire more and more.
While exercising self-control in your financial life is a worthy goal, being content with what God has given you at any point in time is a godly goal.