The Search for Happiness
"Then he [Jesus] said to them, 'Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.'"1
Some time ago "former Tyco executive Dennis Kozlowski walked out of a Manhattan courtroom and into a swarm of photographers. He had just been convicted on multiple counts of looting Tyco of hundreds of millions of dollars.
As Chuck Colson wrote, "I have an idea that at the peak of Kozlowski's wealth and fame, he found his life empty and meaningless. I did when I rose to great heights of political power. According to researchers … a growing body of data points to the conclusion that the amount of money accumulated above middle-class comfort level has no impact on our happiness. They found instead that it's social interaction and friendships that give us lasting pleasure in life."2
Amazing isn't it? Modern research is now agreeing with what Jesus taught more than 2,000 years ago. Furthermore, God's Word repeatedly emphasizes the importance of relationships. One of the first things Jesus did at the very beginning of his earthly ministry was to choose the twelve disciples "that they might be with him." He reminded his friend, Martha, that it was more important to relate to him—in the way that her sister, Mary, was doing—than it was to work for him—as important as that was. A new commandment that Jesus gave all his followers was to "love one another."
Jesus also pointed out that when we come with an offering for God and remember that we have an impaired significant relationship, we are to first resolve that relationship and then bring our gift to God.
It has been claimed that 80 percent of life's satisfaction comes from satisfactory relationships. For happiness, yes we do need to have our basic needs met, and there's nothing wrong with wealth if it is gained honestly and used purposely with healthy motives; but of far greater importance is that we not only find peace with God, but also peace with others by forgiving all who have hurt us, and resolving every impaired relationship as far as is humanly possible.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, while not neglecting my work and responsibilities, please help me to sort out my priorities and develop and maintain healthy relationships, first with my family, then with friends, and also with strangers whom you bring into my life. And above all, please help me to love you with all my heart, and always put my relationship to you first in everything I am and do. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
1. Luke 12:15 (NIV).
2. Chuck Colson in Breakpoint, July 19, 2005.