Recently the Mega Millions jackpot was up to over half a billion dollars. That’s billion with a “b.” $640 million as of the last count.
I know, you’d settle for half of that in cash. Oh, the things that you could do with half a billion dollars (or whatever you would actually wind up with after taxes, if you won). Many of us have daydreamed about what we would do if we ever had that much money. We’d pay off all of our bills, all of our extended family’s bills, set up our kids and grandchildren for life, maybe make some rather sizable charitable donations.
They say that money can’t buy happiness, but most of us would like to put that theory to the test, wouldn’t we? In the words of George Bailey from the movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “It [money] comes in pretty handy down here, bub!”
But what would really change if you won? Would it really change anything?
If you are an unhappy person right now, do you really believe that money would change that? Why?
People often talk about having a lot of money enabling them to ‘take care of their families for life.’ But is that true? Can money really do that?
Can big money ensure a happy marriage? Divorce statistics would indicate otherwise. (Sometimes having a lot of money actually seems to be one of the primary causes of, or motivations for divorce.)
Can big money ensure that our family will be stable, happy, and healthy? Of course not.
Can big money protect us from unforeseen disaster, disease, or death? No. Those things are no respecters of persons.
Why do we often wish that we had seemingly unlimited financial resources? The obvious answer that comes to mind is, well, stuff. We like stuff. We like to be able to buy whatever we want. And most of us seem to have an endless list of wants. We always want more.
But is there another reason(s) that we so often daydream about hitting the jackpot? I think that there is – we want control. We want to be in charge, and we think that money (a lot of money) would provide that ability to control our circumstances.
But does money really do that? It sure seems to give us a lot more options, but the control that it promises is often nothing but an illusion.
And worse than that, it can actually end up controlling us. In Matthew 6:24, Jesus says,
“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
Many of us are very familiar with that verse, but have never really thought through the implications of what the Lord Jesus is saying here. Who is the master here – you or your money? Who serves whom?
It is the exact opposite of what we might expect, isn’t it? We think that having money or possessions makes us the master, but it doesn’t. Money or possessions can end up becoming our master and we end up serving them, not vice-versa. So be careful what you wish for!
And to make it even worse, Jesus is saying that when money is our master, we actually cannot serve God! How often do we wrongly imagine that if we j-u-s-t had more money, then we would be freed up to really serve the Lord, contribute to His work in the church at home & abroad, etc.? But that just isn’t so.
If we are not serving the Lord now, why do we fool ourselves into thinking that it would be any different if we were wealthy? If we are not presently giving a portion of our financial resources to advance the spread of the gospel of Jesus Christ here & abroad, why do we imagine that would change if we had more money?
Not only that, but if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you have something that the wealthiest unbeliever could only dream of! They should truly be envious of you. The gospel is the one thing in the universe that is quite literally priceless. Jesus said,
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” (Matthew 13:44 ESV)
If you have the Lord, you have everything. And if knowing the Lord (which is the essence of eternal life – John 17:3) isn’t enough to make you happy, then nothing else will either – certainly not money.
If you know Jesus Christ, you are rich beyond your wildest dreams.
“Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
(Psalm 73:25-26 ESV)