Most of us Christians won’t ever think of money as the only measure of success in life. It’s so far from what we know is true. Jesus even tells us in the Gospel that we can’t serve both God and money at the same time. And didn’t the rich man go away sad when he couldn’t let go of his riches so he could be perfect in God’s sight?
But the theories we hold in our heads don’t always seem to match what we subconsciously feel within. Many times, we don’t even realize the truths we live in our personal lives.
If money does not measure our success, why is our self-worth often affected when we run into financial difficulties? Why do we feel insecure whenever we can’t donate as much to the Church as some people do? And why do we feel less successful than our peers who have made it big in their respective careers?
I’m not saying it happens to everybody. But it happens quite often. And we measure ourselves by the money we have instead of the virtues we have attained.
Money seems to be synonymous with success, and poverty with failure
I even heard one pastor preach about those people who failed to secure a good retirement for themselves, people who used to be professionals but are now in need of help for their senior years.
While I still respect the pastor and I get his point when it comes to practicality, I still didn’t like the message that seems to look down on poor people. I didn’t like it because it tended to sum up all of the person’s accomplishments with the money one has saved.
Did St. Francis of Assisi ever think about his comfortable retirement? Did he not leave everything behind just to follow Jesus in poverty? Yet none of us could ever say that St. Francis did not achieve anything.
This is not to say that all of us have the same calling. But some of us do. And those of us who are not called to such a calling are still called to prioritize God’s kingdom over material things.
Legacy to children
Let’s start with the simple matter of earning a living for your family. For the breadwinner and head of the family, it is very important to work hard and support the needs of your family. It is not only a good choice, it is a sacred responsibility.
But you must never let this responsibility take over your more important responsibility of teaching the Christian faith to your children.
Earning a living must never be an excuse to forget passing on good values and the right Christian education to your family.
If you neglect to do so, you will reap the terrible consequences later on. It could be that your children would fail to spend your hard-earned wealth the right way. They can form bad habits that are bad for their future. It could be that they would grow up not knowing the value of hard work and instead of appreciating the things they have, they would just ask and ask for more.
Sooner or later, you’d learn that earning that amount of money for their sake had all been in vain. What good is it to provide for your children’s material needs if they starve for spiritual nourishment? What kind of lives would they have later on?
Peace in the family
Earning more money is never an assurance of having peace in the home.
Even those who are already rich can fight for money. How many families sue each other to inherit the wealth of loved ones who passed away?
Spending your time only on amassing wealth and none in your relationships wouldn’t give you happiness or peace in the long run. In fact, just the opposite could happen.
But if you prioritize spending time with your family and growing in holiness, you can be certain that you have not spent your time in vain.
The rest of the world may not applaud you for being rich, but you have attained success in the things that matter most.
Final thoughts on Success In Life
Money is not the only measure of one’s success in life. Let us not be affected by the things other people say when we are financially troubled. Let us not envy those who have attained more wealth only by sacrificing their spiritual needs.
Think of the best legacy you can give to your children. And think of the peace and happiness that only God’s grace can bestow on your family.
We must never be idle, and we must work hard to support our loved ones. But let us never lose sight of the more important things we should strive for. We should strive for wealth that no one can take away from us because Jesus Himself protects it for our eternal joy.
“But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” – Matthew 6:33 (NRSVCE)
You may also want to read “Do You Need To Be Poor To Follow Jesus?”.