In 1897, American poet, Edward Arlington Robinson published a poem about a gentleman who was “richer than a king” and “schooled in every grace.” People who knew this man, but didn’t share his fortune, cursed their own lack of money and food. This man had everything that made these less fortunate people wish that they were “in his place.” What they didn’t know was that, although the rich man seemingly had it all, there was one thing that he did not have. Robinson’s poem, which was the inspiration for a song by Simon & Garfunkel, ends with these stark words:
Richard Cory, the man who had everything, did not have one thing that all the riches in the world cannot buy – true happiness.
The Bible tells us that money does not satisfy (Ecclesiastes 5:10). People who love money will never be satisfied, no matter how much wealth they accumulate. While money can be a blessing and a gift from God (Deuteronomy 8:18), there are dangers in looking to money as a source of happiness. We can become enslaved to money. If money is our master, it can even pull us away from God. Jesus said that we cannot serve two masters. If we serve money, we cannot serve God (Matthew 6:24). The love of money can also lead to all kinds of evil, and when we crave money, it can pull us away from our faith (1 Timothy 6:10).
So, true happiness cannot be found in the accumulation of wealth. No matter how much money we accumulate, it will not bring happiness. True happiness can be found only in God, through a knowledge of God and His faithfulness. True happiness is found in the presence of God (Psalm 16:11). It comes through an understanding of the loving nature of God and by rejoicing in His marvelous works (Psalm 92:4).
Money cannot buy happiness. Wealth can be temporary and uncertain at best and we should not set our hopes on it. Rather, we should set our hopes on God because it is He who so richly provides us with everything that we really need, everything to enjoy (1 Timothy 6:17).