“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.” – Matthew 6:19
In Malcolm Gladwell’s newest book, David and Goliath, which I have just begun to read, he discusses how increased wealth and income is an advantage, but only to a certain point after which it starts to diminish into a disadvantage. An illustration he uses is the role of income in parenting. As you can imagine for those at the lowest income levels parenting can be very difficult. So it stands to reason that as income rises parenting becomes easier. But as Gladwell points out, “Money makes parenting easier until a certain point – when it stops making much difference.” Then, he goes on, “. . . when the income of parents gets high enough, then parenting starts to be harder again.”
As I read this it occurred to me the age-old question about wealth, how much is enough? Certainly poverty is not a circumstance most of us would choose, and we probably all agree that there is some proportional relation to our happiness and well-being the higher our level of income – but only to a point. The question is, what is that point when wealth and income impact our happiness and well-being toward the negative?
About three years ago when Tee and I decided to sell our home that we had lived in almost twenty-four years we began preparing by getting rid of a lot of stuff, things that over the years had accumulated in the attic and backs of closets and cabinets serving no purpose except collecting dust. In the process of deciding what to keep or discard we established a rule. No matter what, family heirloom or not, if it is something we use regularly it stays, if not it goes. Except for a couple of small items that got placed in the discard pile accidentally, we’ve never missed a thing – and we feel so unburdened!
We all have essential needs to live comfortably, and that includes a certain level of wealth and income. But as to the age-old question, how much is enough? When our possessions become a burden, getting in the way of our happiness and well-being we’ve accumulated too much. That’s when we need to discard some things, and hear in our hearts the wisdom of the scriptures: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth.”