Can Possessions Give Us Happiness?
What would we give for contentment? Jesus posed the question this way: “What will it profit anyone who would gain the whole world but lose their life? Or what would people give in exchange for their life?” There is hardly anyone who has not heard and/or repeated the sentiment that possessions cannot give us happiness—even those who seem forever seeking happiness through their possessions. To be honest, we all run the risk of seeking happiness through ownership of things.
The hallmark of 1 Timothy 6 is highlighted by the surprising perspective that we have possessions which do indeed yield contentment! “Aim at righteousness, godliness, faith, love steadfastness, gentleness.” Other verses list faith, eternal life, life itself. In these things we find contentment which is itself a gift, being realized through turning toward the fruits of life in the Spirit. While that turning seems to be abstract at best, the Christian discovers more and more freedom from worry, anxiety, fear, and begins to experience more openness, peace, love and joy as they make these possessions of the Spirit their aim.
—Rev. Tim Suenram
- In a society placing the highest priority on instant gratification, what obstacles impede the realization of the goals pointed out to Timothy? In this light, what do you make of the statement, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand”?
- How do our possessions hinder or help our aspiring to righteousness? How is this aspiration to righteousness? How is this aspiration related to the fact that we possess extreme material wealth in relation to the vast majority of the world?
- Does one require great possessions to fall victim to the love of money?
How Do I Act?
- Make an inventory of those items in your household which you possess without knowing why. Add to it extra items you have of the same kind. For example, how many of the clothes in your closet do you still wear? How many shoes? Do you have an abundance of pens and pencils and still buy more? What do you do with all those extra coffee mugs, bicycles, pieces of luggage, and unused exercise equipment?
- Plan a church-wide garage sale, the proceeds of which will be given to a local poverty program. Be generous; be severe with yourself and encourage others to do the same.
- Begin to plan an alternative Christmas celebration for your family. If you begin today, you’ll have ample opportunity to plan and discuss your celebration with those whom you normally exchange gifts. Plan with your family ways in which you can give the gift of yourselves to one another, agreeing ahead of time how the money you normally would have spent will be used in serving others.