Do Money and Reputation Really Make You Happy?

By Ma Hui, Germany

Once I heard a story, which went like this: Several elite people came to an old professor, complaining that their jobs and lives were very stressful. So the professor served them a pot of coffee, with a variety of cups to choose from. Each of them chose an expensive and beautiful cup; none chose the ordinary, cheap ones. Based on this, the professor taught them a lesson: That, in fact, the cup cannot change the quality of coffee, yet everyone chose a nice cup and that is the source of their stress. He also told them, “Life is like the coffee. Work, money, fame and status are just like the cups. Those who live a happy life enjoy coffee without looking at the cup.”

This story made me think deeply: Isn’t each one of us in real life just like those elite people? We always complain that we are less well off than others, and in order to live a better life we struggle and strive hard. For example, my father lives a very tiring life: He always toils and sweats like a money-making machine, and during the spring festival period in China, he even spends the several days of leisure planning how to earn money in the next year. One of my relatives was clearly aware that working as a paint sprayer in a leather shoe factory for a long time would endanger her life, yet to make more money she still kept working there. As a result, in less than two years there she got cancer and died young, leaving a 4-year-old son motherless. A son of my neighbor, Auntie Li, studied very diligently in the hope of getting into college to bring honor to his ancestors. Unexpectedly, his dream fell apart and the shock made him, a normal young man, mad. I was once the same as them: After getting married, I had a happy and warm home. Yet simply because I always compared our wealth with that of my relatives and friends, I often complained to my husband that he wasn’t making enough money and thus often quarreled with him, leaving our home without any warmth or affection. Actually, each of us wishes to live a happy life, so why are there so many tragedies going on in our lives?

Many gold coins
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God’s words say: “What does Satan use to keep man penned in and controlled? (Fame and gain.) So Satan uses fame and gain to control man’s thoughts until all they can think of is fame and gain. They struggle for fame and gain, suffer hardships for fame and gain, endure humiliation for fame and gain, sacrifice everything they have for fame and gain, and they will make any judgment or decision to both maintain and obtain fame and gain. In this way, Satan binds man with invisible shackles. These shackles are borne on people’s bodies, and they have not the strength nor courage to throw them off. So people trudge ever onward in great difficulty, unknowingly bearing these shackles. For the sake of this fame and gain, mankind becomes estranged from God and betrays Him. With each passing generation, mankind becomes more and more wicked, more and more darkened, and so in this way one generation after another is destroyed in the fame and gain of Satan.

From God’s words, I finally understood why people live with so much pain and why such habits and behaviors last from one generation to the next without any change. The root cause is that Satan teaches us viewpoints to do with seeking fame and gain, such as: “A man leaves his name behind wherever he stays, just as a goose utters its cry wherever it flies,” “Money is first,” “Money isn’t everything, but without it, you can do nothing.” Deceived and constrained by these satanic viewpoints, we yearn to live superior lives to others, and think that without a rich material life, we would be belittled and despised by others. So we live fecklessly and fight to earn money. We toil and rush about only to live a better life and win the admiration of others. My relative worked hard to make money at the cost of her health. She indeed made some money, but lost her life in the end. As for me, in order to be looked up to by others, I competed with my friends and relatives and so I always complained that my husband wasn’t very capable and quarreled with him. Aren’t these tragedies and miseries caused by our satanic, evil outlook on life?

Looking at those elite people in the story, they also had many great achievements and were successful in the eyes of many people, but they were still not content. We should carefully consider this question: Is a person who has a high social position, a good reputation and great wealth really happy? In the world, some people have high positions in government or successful careers, and they possess wealth and authority and look successful, but they don’t live happily because they are always calculating and fighting for their own fame and gain. To relieve the pressure, some of them do drugs like ecstasy, go drinking in KTVs, or even indulge in their lusts to numb themselves. Some of them suffer from depression, become moody all day long, and eventually choose to kill themselves. Outwardly, they are rich, powerful and valued by others, but what have they gotten in the end? Just pain and emptiness rather than happiness. These tragedies are undoubtedly wake-up calls for us.

God says: “People spend their lives chasing after money and fame; they clutch at these straws, thinking they are their only means of support, as if by having them they could keep on living, could exempt themselves from death. But only when they are close to dying do they realize how distant these things are from them, how weak they are in the face of death, how easily they shatter, how lonely and helpless they are, with nowhere to turn. They realize that life cannot be bought with money or fame, that no matter how wealthy a person is, no matter how lofty his or her position is, all people are equally poor and inconsequential in the face of death. They realize that money cannot buy life, that fame cannot erase death, that neither money nor fame can lengthen a person’s life by a single minute, a single second.” From God’s words we can see: No matter how much more money or how high the status we have, they can’t help at all when we face death. We have all heard about Fu Biao, who was rich and had a liver transplant twice but still died. And Wang Junyao, who possessed 3.5 billion yuan but still couldn’t buy an inch of healthy intestine to save his life. There have also been many examples of celebrities and entrepreneurs who suffered from cancer and died early. Facing this fact, we can see that money and status are just like a gorgeous coat: When we put it on, it seems to raise our self-worth and satisfy our vanity, but only for a while. When faced with death we will realize that the money and fame that we have sought all our lives are simply empty; they can’t be exchanged for health nor save our lives. How worthless they really are!

I also remember the story of Job. God says: “Job’s status and standing were much prized. … he was possessed of great wealth and venerable status. … Though affluent, and possessed of many assets and servants, Job’s life was not a luxurious one. He was not beguiled by his superlative living environment, and he did not gorge himself on the enjoyments of the flesh or forget to offer burnt offerings because of his wealth, much less did it cause him to gradually shun God in his heart. Evidently, then, Job was disciplined in his lifestyle, and was not greedy or hedonistic, nor did he fixate upon quality of life, as a result of God’s blessings to him. Instead, he was humble and modest, and cautious and careful before God, he often gave thought to God’s graces and blessings, and was continually fearful of God.

Job was possessed of high status and great wealth, and he would be called a remarkably famous and rich man if he lived today. But he had few requirements about his quality of life. He didn’t pursue a luxurious lifestyle, much less forget to worship God because of his wealth. He feared God and shunned evil, so he often offered burnt offerings, and when his sons and daughters feasted he didn’t join them or take pleasure in the feast. When he lost his fame, status, and great fortune, he didn’t complain or try to get it all back, but instead submitted to God’s sovereignty and walked the God-fearing, evil-shunning way. So, finally, he gained the blessings and approval of Jehovah God.

From Job’s experiences, I received great inspiration: He was disciplined in his lifestyle, and instead of being greedy and pursuing a luxurious life, he focused on seeking truths, being a person who feared God and shunned evil. And eventually he lived a meaningful life. We should imitate Job and walk the way of fearing God and shunning evil, and seek a truly happy and meaningful life. This is the choice of a wise person.

Pursuing money and fame only makes us more miserable and confused and leads to a life of tragedy. Only by accepting and submitting to the Creator’s sovereignty and arrangements can we stop repeating the tragedies of those who came before us and gain a happy and cheerful life.

Maybe you also like to read: Satan’s Trick Behind Chasing Money

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