Benefit by Pursuing Spiritual Values

“A mere lover of silver will not be satisfied with silver, neither any lover of wealth with income.”​—Ecclesiastes 5:10.

OVERWORK can lead to stress, and stress may bring on health problems, sometimes leading to death. In many lands, families are being torn apart by divorce. All too often, excessive concern with material things lies behind such tragedies. Rather than enjoying what he has, a person who is caught up in attaining possessions can find himself always wanting more, regardless of the cost to his well-being. A self-help book states: “Keeping up with the Joneses is a national pastime, even if Mr. Jones is a workaholic on the verge of a heart attack at age forty-three.”

The quest for more can become insatiable, robbing a person of any joy that he might otherwise experience. Our human weaknesses in this regard are often exploited by a powerful force​—advertising! Television programs are crammed with commercials urging you to buy things that you probably do not need and that you may not  even be able to afford. All of this can lead to substantial harm.

Unrestrained self-indulgence can have a subtle yet devastating effect on us, both physically and morally. For example, wise King Solomon observed: “A calm heart is the life of the fleshly organism.” (Proverbs 14:30) In contrast, overexertion, anxiety, and the pressures of accumulating material wealth can destroy our health and happiness. Relationships also suffer when material goals dominate our life. And when a person’s family and social life deteriorate, so does the quality of his life in general.

Superiority of Spiritual Values

“Quit being fashioned after this system of things,” admonished the apostle Paul centuries ago. (Romans 12:2) The world has a fondness for those who conform to its values. (John 15:19) The tendency is to appeal to your senses of sight, touch, taste, smell, and hearing​—yes, to adopt a materialistic life-style. The emphasis is on “the desire of the eyes” so that you and others will pursue material gain.​—1 John 2:15-17.

But there are values that transcend money, prominence, and material wealth. Centuries ago, King Solomon accumulated all that the world could offer in a material way. He built houses and had gardens, orchards, servants, livestock, male and female singers, along with much gold and silver. Solomon increased his assets far beyond those of all who had preceded him. To say that he was rich is an understatement. Solomon had virtually everything that could be desired. Yet, when he looked at his accomplishments, he said: “Everything was vanity and a striving after wind.”​—Ecclesiastes 2:1-11.

With the superior wisdom that he was privileged to gain, Solomon knew that greater fulfillment comes from the pursuit of spiritual values. He wrote: “The conclusion of the matter, everything having been heard, is: Fear the true God and keep his commandments. For this is the whole obligation of man.”​—Ecclesiastes 12:13.

Of more value than gold or silver is the treasure that can be found in the pages of God’s Word, the Bible. (Proverbs 16:16) Like jewels, profound truths are there for you to discover. Will you search and dig for them? (Proverbs 2:1-6) Our Creator, the Source of true values, urges you to do so, and he will help you. How?

Jehovah provides gems of truth through his Word, his spirit, and his organization.  (Psalm 1:1-3; Isaiah 48:17, 18; Matthew 24:45-47; 1 Corinthians 2:10) Examining these rare gems of inestimable value gives you an opportunity to choose intelligently the best and most rewarding way of life. And that will not be hard because Jehovah, our Creator, knows what we need to be truly happy.

The Bible Promotes the Highest Values

The sound counsel, or advice, that is available in the Bible is both practical and unequaled. The moral standards it advocates are unsurpassed. Its counsel is always beneficial. It has stood the test of time. Examples of the Bible’s sound advice are to work hard, to be honest, to use money wisely, and to avoid laziness.​—Proverbs 6:6-8; 20:23; 31:16.

In line with that, Jesus said: “Stop storing up for yourselves treasures upon the earth, where moth and rust consume, and where thieves break in and steal. Rather, store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes, and where thieves do not break in and steal.”​—Matthew 6:19, 20.

That timely admonition is as applicable today as it was 2,000 years ago. Rather than getting caught up in a quest for material wealth, we can benefit now by pursuing a superior way of life. The key is storing up spiritual treasures, which lead to a life of real happiness and contentment. How can we do so? By reading God’s Word, the Bible, and by applying what it teaches.

Spiritual Values Bring Rewards

When properly applied, spiritual values benefit us physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Just as the ozone layer high above the earth shields us from harmful rays of the sun, sound moral principles help protect us by exposing the dangerous effects of materialism. The Christian apostle Paul wrote: “Those who are determined to be rich fall into temptation and a snare and many senseless and hurtful desires, which plunge men into destruction and ruin. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of injurious things, and by reaching out for this love some have been led astray from the faith and have stabbed themselves all over with many pains.”​—1 Timothy 6:9, 10.

The love of riches entices people to seek greater wealth, position, and power. Very often, devious and dishonest means are used to achieve these goals. The pursuit of material things can rob a person of time, strength, and abilities. It can even rob one of a good night’s sleep. (Ecclesiastes 5:12) The quest for more certainly stifles spiritual progress. The greatest man who ever lived, Jesus Christ, clearly showed the better way: “Happy are those conscious of their spiritual need.” (Matthew 5:3) He knew that spiritual riches lead to permanent rewards and are vastly more important than transient material gain.​—Luke 12:13-31.

 Does It Really Work?

“My parents tried hard to convince me that spiritual values are impractical,” Greg remembers. “Yet, I’ve gained tremendous peace of mind by pursuing spiritual goals because I’m free from the stress of competing for wealth.”

Spiritual values also build better personal relationships. True friends are attracted to you because of who you are, not because of what you own. The Bible recommends: “Keep company with the wise and you will become wise.” (Proverbs 13:20, Today’s English Version) Moreover, a successful family is built on wisdom and love, not material possessions.​—Ephesians 5:22–6:4.

We are not born with values. We must learn them from our peers or from a higher source. That is why a Bible-based education can transform our whole mental outlook regarding material things. “I was helped to rethink my values, and I learned to be content with the necessities,” says Don, a former banker.

Pursue Lasting Spiritual Riches

Spiritual values highlight long-range rewards, not short-term gratification. Paul wrote: “The things seen [material] are temporary, but the things unseen [spiritual] are everlasting.” (2 Corinthians 4:18) It is true that material pursuits may gratify momentary desires, but greed has no future. Spiritual values are eternal.​—Proverbs 11:4; 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10.

The Bible condemns the materialistic focus that is so prominent at this time.  It teaches us how to curb a selfish appetite by keeping our eye simple, focused on the more important things, spiritual riches. (Philippians 1:10) It exposes greed for what it is​—self-idolatry. As we apply what we learn from God’s Word, we realize greater happiness. Our thoughts turn from receiving to giving. What a powerful incentive to replace self-indulgence with spiritual values!

Admittedly, to a certain extent, money may serve as a protection. (Ecclesiastes 7:12) But the Bible realistically states: “Your money can be gone in a flash, as if it had grown wings and flown away like an eagle.” (Proverbs 23:5, TEV) People have sacrificed a great deal on the altar of materialism​—health, families, even a good conscience—​with disastrous results. On the other hand, having spirituality satisfies our most important needs​—the need for love, the need for purpose, and the need to worship the loving God, Jehovah. It also points the way to everlasting life in human perfection on a paradise earth​—the hope that God holds out for us.

Soon mankind’s dream of prosperity will be fully realized in God’s new world. (Psalm 145:16) At that time the whole earth will be “filled with the knowledge of Jehovah.” (Isaiah 11:9) Spiritual values will flourish. Materialism and its scars will be completely eradicated. (2 Peter 3:13) Then the things that make life infinitely more worth living​—perfect health, satisfying work, wholesome leisure, warm family relationships, and lasting friendship with God—​will bring mankind true happiness forever.

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Use Your Money Wisely!

Identify your needs. Jesus taught us to pray: “Give us our bread for the day according to the day’s requirement.” (Luke 11:3) Do not let today’s wants become tomorrow’s needs. Remember that your life does not result from what you possess.​—Luke 12:16-21.

Make a budget. Do not give in to impulse buying. The Bible states: “The plans of the diligent one surely make for advantage, but everyone that is hasty surely heads for want.” (Proverbs 21:5) Jesus advised his listeners to count the cost before undertaking any financial project.​—Luke 14:28-30.

Avoid unnecessary debt. Wherever possible, save for purchases instead of buying on credit. The proverb puts it this way: “The borrower is servant to the man doing the lending.” (Proverbs 22:7) By exercising self-restraint and staying within your budget, you can even successfully plan for major purchases.

Avoid waste. Make what you already own last much longer by caring well for it, thus cutting down on waste. Jesus showed proper regard for conservation in connection with what he used.​—John 6:10-13.

Keep first things first. A wise person will ‘buy out time’ to pursue more important goals.​—Ephesians 5:15, 16.

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Learning From Experience​—There Is a Better Way

Personal experience​—both good and bad—​can teach us valuable lessons. But is it true that experience is the best teacher, as the saying goes? No, there is a superior source of guidance. The psalmist identified it when he said in prayer: “Your word is a lamp to my foot, and a light to my roadway.”​—Psalm 119:105.

Why is learning from divine instruction far better than learning from personal experience? For one thing, learning only from experience​—trial and error—​can be both costly and painful. It is also unnecessary. “O if only you would actually pay attention to my commandments!” God said to the ancient Israelites. “Then your peace would become just like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea.”​—Isaiah 48:18.

One reason God’s Word excels as a source of instruction is that it contains the oldest and most accurate account of human experience. You likely realize that painlessly learning from the successes and failures of others is preferable to repeating their mistakes. (1 Corinthians 10:6-11) More important, in the Bible, God provides us with superb laws and guiding principles that are unequaled in reliability. “The law of Jehovah is perfect . . . The reminder of Jehovah is trustworthy, making the inexperienced one wise.” (Psalm 19:7) Surely, learning from the wisdom of our loving Creator is the best possible way.

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The world wants you to adopt its materialistic life-style

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Of more value than gold or silver is the treasure found in the Bible