Money can’t buy happiness, right? We have all heard the maxim and on an intellectual level know it’s true. But still, it certainly looks like money could purchase us a little fix of joy. We have no trouble conjuring up a fantasy in which we are both filthy rich and overwhelmingly happy. And it’s no great work to dream up another scenario in which we’re dirt poor and wretchedly unhappy. So just what is the connection between money and happiness, anyway?
The Bible gives us a bit of help here. It makes a connection between money and happiness. It even makes a connection between the extravagant use of money and a great abundance of happiness. Money can be used to generate a holy joy. But how?
1 Chronicles 29 tells us. King David is nearing the end of his life and knows that God will soon call his son, Solomon, to build a temple. So David takes it upon himself to begin collecting the precious metals that will be needed to construct a house worthy of God. He gives extravagantly from both the national treasury and his own, and the people then follow suit. “They gave for the service of the house of God 5,000 talents and 10,000 darics of gold, 10,000 talents of silver, 18,000 talents of bronze and 100,000 talents of iron. And whoever had precious stones gave them to the treasury of the house of the LORD.”
This was no small collection, no mere passing of the hat. Many of the people drastically reduced their personal wealth through their generous contribution. Together they accumulated a vast treasure trove of almost unbelievable value. Together they guaranteed that this temple would be special.
What was the result of their generosity? The author tells us: “Then the people rejoiced because they had given willingly, for with a whole heart they had offered freely to the Lord.” David soon made this a matter of prayer, saying, “I know, my God, that you test the heart and have pleasure in uprightness. In the uprightness of my heart I have freely offered all these things, and now I have seen your people, who are present here, offering freely and joyously to you” (1 Chronicles 29:17). Their generosity brought joy. The free and willing sacrifice of their own wealth caused them to rejoice. Each one gave as he decided in his own heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion. God loves that kind of cheerful giver and God’s people love to be that kind of cheerful giver. God granted and his people gained joy.
Money may not be able to purchase the greatest and deepest joy, but it can still generate it. The joy is there for the taking. The joy is there for the giving. The joy is for the generous.