Be Careful What You Wish For

What is your definition of success?  Is it to have a great-paying job?  To make a difference in the lives of those around you?  To be respected? To have a solid marriage?  Ultimately, happiness seems to revolve around how we deal with money–not in money itself.  In Hebrews 13:5, Paul writes, Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”  

When we’re locked into the striving-for-money maze, there are many dark corners that lead nowhere good.  With God’s help, we can either go around the maze or find a more direct route through it.

Unfortunately, many get lost in the maze.  Based on what we see in movies or television or read in books or magazines (or online) or hear on the radio, it seems that many are focused on the rat race of climbing the financial ladder to some kind of ultimate success.  But if you actually follow the lives of those people in the news, you find that their successes–whether it be in the business world, the political arena, the entertainment industry, sports, or even religious professions–often end in heartache, pain, and suffering for themselves and their families.

By all means, strive to do your best in all things.  But make sure the things you’re doing give you satisfaction in and of themselves.  Doing something you hate because it makes you lots of money won’t make you happy.  So how do you discover what to do?  Ask God because He is [always] energizing you so that you will desire and do what always pleases Him.  (Philippians 2:13) God helps us to want to do the things that make both you and Him happy.  And while it may be nice to be rich, all God requires is that we be good stewards of what He provides.

A young man lives in a tiny, run-down cottage on the beach and he rows his boat out into the ocean  every day to fish, not only because he needs to eat, but because he feels peaceful on the water.  But more than that, he also wants to improve his life and that of his family, so he works hard at bringing in bigger and bigger catches.  With his earnings, he eventually buys a bigger boat so he can make his business even more profitable.  That leads to a third boat and then a fourth boat, and as the years pass and the business continues to grow, he eventually accumulates a whole fleet of boats.  By then, he’s rich and successful, with a big house and a thriving business, but the stress and pressure of running the company eventually take their toll.  He realizes that when he retires, what he really wants more than anything is to live in a tiny cottage on the beach, where he can fish all day in a rowboat…because he wants to feel the same sense of peace and satisfaction he experienced when he was young. (story told by Nicholas Sparks in The Longest Ride)

After years of going from having plenty to having a great need and visiting every place in between, Paul ultimately says, [For] I have learned to be ·satisfied [content] ·whatever the circumstances [or with whatever I have] (Philippians 4:11)  If you are right with God and can say the same thing as Paul, you can consider yourself a success because God surely does.

4 thoughts on “Be Careful What You Wish For

  1. This is really good, Ken! I can certainly relate to this story in some aspects of it and no, I don’t have a fleet of boats. At one time in my life I was making some pretty good money but I never thought it was enough. Growing up it was just my mom who raised seven kids on her own and we did not have much never mind any extras. So I guess I thought money would some how make me happy. I was wrong, it actually only stressed me out more because I kept thinking I needed to work more and more overtime because no amount of money was enough. Now, I am searching for a job, have less money than I have ever had in my whole adult life, and yet I feel like I’m in the center of God’s will. My bank account may be barren but my heart is filled with the King of Glory and I have never been richer or happier in my life as I am right now. Amen!


  2. Just yesterday we were at a community poetry celebration of Langston Hughes’ birthday. One of the readers asked us to take a moment to consider what wealth is; then she read his poem Wealth which concludes,
    and brighter
    Than rich diamonds
    The simple dew
    Of love.


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