illustration by Ivan Dubovik

One of the standout tracks from J. Cole’s 2014 album Forest Hills Drive was undoubtedly Love Yourz. When asked about why he wrote the song he said, “When I was young, I thought success was all I needed. That’s what was going to bring happiness, when those things came, the happiness wasn’t there. I realized why that was. There was such an attempt to achieve these things, to keep going that you lose sight of the people and the blessings you have around you.” This hit hard coming from an A-list celebrity!

We’ve been conditioned by the culture and commercial marketing to find happiness in objects and people, and blame those same objects and people if they’re not bringing us the happiness we expected. From that point of view, it makes sense that we would search for additional or alternative objects or individuals to make us more happier like “If I get that sports car, if I find a new spouse or partner, if I work fewer hours or longer hours, if I drink to drown out my sorrows, If l go stay overseas then I’ll be happy.” The danger of all this is, it can easily become our god.

The ancient pagans were not exaggerating when they claimed that everything was a god. They had gods of sex, work, war, money etc.  Today, most people think that kneeling before statues conjures up images of idolatry, but even if we don’t burn incense to Zeus, we sacrifice our lives when money and career are given cosmic proportions. Money exhibits many of the qualities of a deity. It seemingly provides us with security, gives us freedom, and appears to be everywhere. But the most evil of all is money’s quest for omnipotence. It aspires to have absolute power over us.

Money and material wealth trick us by making empty promises. Money presents itself as the solution to our issues, a gauge of God’s favour and his capacity to provide for us. It leads us to believe that our worth is determined by how much we are able to amass, and it promises to bring about a type of solace, rest, and abounding pleasure that is only possible in the presence of the Lord. Numerous thousands of professing Christians are kept so busy maintaining a hedonistic lifestyle that they have “no time” to labour in the harvest fields and scant time to even keep their own personal relationship with God active.

The “desire of All Nations” must be God, not material wealth (Haggai 2:7). Jesus warns us in Luke 12, “Take heed and beware of greed, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.” But, what is greed? Jesus viewed greed as a combination of excessive worry and love of money. “A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions,” he said, explaining why our emotions are so tightly controlled by our bank balance. To “consist” of your possessions is to be defined by what you own and consume. The term describes a personal identity based on money. It refers to people who, if they lose their wealth, do not have a “self” left, for their personal worth is based on their financial worth

The Bible encourages us to trust in him and to stop relying on money and material possessions to make us happy. The Israelites were shown this while they were in the wilderness, where they were given just the right amount of bread (also known as “manna”) daily from heaven. They only collected what each person required; those who gathered more had nothing left over, and those who gathered less had nothing short (Exodus 16:18). Again, Paul advises us in Hebrews to “keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have” (Hebrews 13:5) and also in (1 Timothy 6:6-8) “Of course, there is great gain in godliness combined with contentment; for we did not bring anything into the world, so also we shall not take anything out of it; but if we have food and clothing, we shall be content with these

Does this suggest we shouldn’t work hard? No! Work is necessary. Dependence on God is an attitude towards human labour, not a substitute for it. Our capacity to work is God’s first gift to us for our sustenance, as seen in Genesis 1 and 2. Our work does not stand on its own, as a substitute for God’s generosity, but it is generally the first ingredient in God’s provision. There is more to our identity than what we do or what we produce. We are not the sum total of our bank accounts, nor of the work or responsibilities do we carry. Ultimately life depends not on our hard graft, but on God’s provision and grace. Anyone unwilling to work should not eat. For we hear that some of you are living in idleness, mere busybodies, not doing any work. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12).

God calls us to live a life centered on loving Him and others rather than a life centered on pursuing wealth and material gain. You can gain the whole world but loose the only thing you own. Money and material possessions won’t make you happier, it’s an illusion,

PS: Something to think about:

The satisfaction of the proud person comes not from merely possessing something, but from possessing more of it than anyone else, not from merely being something, but from being better than anyone else.

Categories: illusion

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