Focus on the Family President Jim Daly writes:
Have you ever noticed that the more you have, the more you want – and that the never-ending grasp for things beyond your reach is not only making you miserable, but also hurting your relationships with the people closest to you?
That’s the conclusion of a new study, “Money Over Marriage,” that finds materialism is behind so much of the relationship tension we experience – and cheapening the very sacred institution itself.
I read an analysis of the research findings this past weekend, which dipped into some of the higher-profile cases that make headlines, such as the reported tension inside NFL’s Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen’s marriage. Celebrity relationship challenges may intrigue, especially since they often remind us lots of money won’t make us happy. Yet time and experience tell us money only magnifies what’s currently going on.
But prioritizing materialism over marriage and people isn’t just a problem of the rich and famous. It’s actually a pandemic across first-world countries and in families across all income brackets. We prize possessions over people. Oh, we may not always verbalize such foolish thinking, but just consider the shrinking fertility rate in America, which is now at an all-time low. Many families have more bathrooms and cars than children.
Jean and I love our two sons, but we’ve also wished we had more. Our boys are now grown, but we worked especially hard to prioritize time with them while they were young. I’ve been an imperfect father, but I’ll never regret taking long blocks of time off in the summers to take the boys camping or four-wheeling. Could I have achieved more at the office? Maybe – but to what end? Jean and I consider those years and time to be the happiest of our lives. Even now, I enjoy slipping out for a late-afternoon workout with one of my sons, who enjoys lifting weights.
As he lay dying, the late Bob Marley, the famous Jamaican singer, reportedly said, “Money can’t buy life.” The first Queen Elizabeth reportedly remarked on her deathbed, “All my possessions for a moment of time.”
If you’re reading this right now, you have what the Queen and what Bob Marley didn’t – more time. How will you spend it?
We hear from hundreds of thousands of people every year at Focus on the Family who are struggling with all kinds of personal problems. While “materialism” may not be the first word out of their mouths, our counselors will tell you that selfishness and discontentment sit at the center and root of so much family discord.
And if it makes you feel any better – it’s always been the case. Why else would the apostle Paul write, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me (Phil 4:11-13).
Writing to Timothy, Paul urged, “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” (1 Tim 6:6-10).
We all need money and possessions to survive – but we thrive when we first prioritize our faith in Christ and our love for those closest to us.
Don’t let the materialism menace grab hold of you. Instead, reach for the things money cannot buy.