JON had a very successful career as a consultant in the United States. Even as a young man, he traveled the world and made a lot of money. He and his wife had a beautiful home and a comfortable lifestyle. In the eyes of many, they were blessed.
Consider another case. Out of over 5,000 applicants, Kostas * was one of only 80 selected to become an apprentice with a prominent European bank. Within just a few years, he was repeatedly promoted, eventually being made the head of a major department at another bank. By the time he left that job to start his own company, he was making more money in one year than most people make in a lifetime. He felt blessed.
Yet, both these men are convinced that there are blessings greater than material riches. For instance, today Jon volunteers as a Bible teacher helping others get closer to God. “I have personally seen and experienced that material wealth does not lead to happiness,” says Jon. “The struggle to get it and keep it allows time for little else. On the other hand, living by Bible principles opens up so many blessings, such as a much happier marriage, peace of mind, and a good conscience.”
Kostas similarly observes: “God does not want us to live a life of opulence. I strongly feel that whatever he gives us that is beyond our daily needs puts us under obligation to use it according to his will.” Recently, Kostas and his family started to learn another language in order to teach more people Bible principles. He says, “We have learned that giving makes us happier than does receiving.”—Acts 20:35.
Indeed, Jon and Kostas have both learned that spiritual blessings are much more valuable than material riches. Daniel Gilbert, a professor at Harvard, notes that mental-health experts “have spent decades studying the relation between wealth and happiness, and they have generally concluded that wealth increases human happiness when it lifts people out of abject poverty and into the middle class.” But then he adds, “It does little to increase happiness thereafter.”
A Lesson Often Painfully Learned
“Once above the poverty line,” noted a thoughtful observer, “increases in income have surprisingly little relation to personal happiness.” Early in the last century, a reporter had that lesson impressed upon him when interviewing Andrew Carnegie, a pioneer of the steel industry, who was then one of the richest men in the world. “I am not to be envied,” Carnegie told him. “How can my wealth help me? I am sixty years old, and I cannot digest my food. I would give all my millions if I could have youth and health.”
The reporter then added: “Mr. Carnegie suddenly turned, and in hushed voice and with bitterness and depth of feeling quite indescribable, said, ‘If I could make Faust’s bargain I would. I would gladly sell anything to have my life over again.’” Another multimillionaire, oil magnate J. Paul Getty, later said in agreement: “Money doesn’t necessarily have any connection with happiness. Maybe with unhappiness.”
You may well agree with the Bible writer who requested: “Give me neither poverty nor riches. Let me devour the food prescribed for me, that I may not become satisfied and I actually deny you and say: ‘Who is Jehovah?’ and that I may not come to poverty and I actually steal and assail the name of my God.”—Proverbs 30:8, 9.
King Solomon of ancient Israel explained: “I became greater and increased more than anyone that happened to be before me in Jerusalem.” Yet, he added: “Everything was vanity and a striving after wind.” Solomon also stated: “The blessing of Jehovah—that is what makes rich, and he adds no pain with it.”—Ecclesiastes 2:9-11; 5:12, 13; Proverbs 10:22.
The Way to Everlasting Blessings
Clearly, we can only find true and lasting happiness after we properly satisfy our spiritual needs. If we put God first, we will find that every aspect of our lives becomes richer and more rewarding.
Thankfully, we can say that money will not always be a cause for concern. The Bible assures us of a future when greedy and exploitative commerce will be permanently removed. (1 John 2:15-17) God’s new system of things that follows will be governed by his righteous principles. The earth will be transformed into a paradise as God originally purposed it to be when he put the first couple upon it. What a blessing it will be to see the entire earth filled with happiness, peace, and love!—Isaiah 2:2-4; 2 Peter 3:13; 1 John 4:8-11.
If we put God first, our lives can become more rewarding
Life at that time will not be austere or dull. Material blessings will accompany the spiritual as God fulfills his original purpose for humans to live forever in a paradise earth. We are assured that there will be more than enough food, shelter, and meaningful work for all. Poverty will be completely eradicated.—Psalm 72:16; Isaiah 65:21-23; Micah 4:4.
Everyone who sincerely exercises faith in Jehovah, the God of the Bible, will not be disappointed. (Romans 10:11-13) How wise, therefore, to pursue now the blessings that are greater than riches!—1 Timothy 6:6-10.
^ par. 3 Name has been changed.