Embracing Enough in a Not Enough World

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Watch an advertisement, and I’m sure you’ll be convinced that you don’t have enough.

Peer over the shoulder of a friend who’s showing off the latest and greatest gizmo, and you’ll quickly realize that you don’t have enough.

Create a wish list of things you’d like to do.  Write down projects you’d like to complete.  Think about all the upgrades you’d like to make.

Enough is a mirage in our world.  From a distance, you can look ahead and see some obscure spot, like a mirage.  You declare that spot to be enough.  But then, the closer you travel towards the mirage, it will eventually disappear and another mirage appears further down the road.

Today’s question is a simple one, but I don’t think most of us answer it: do you have enough?

You may be living in a context where you don’t have enough.  You struggle with your income to make what is necessary to meet the basic necessities of your family.  There are people who do not have enough.

Still, others of us live in under an illusion that we don’t have enough.

One of the most influential financial books I’ve read is called Your Money or Your Life.

The book helps to illustrate that a certain amount of money is necessary for survival.  During the survival phase of financial accumulation, we learn that money makes life better.

However, at some point, the money we have is enough for more than survival.  Now money can be used for comfort.  During this stage, we again manage to convince ourselves that money makes life better.

Once money is enough for survival and comfort, we start to use money for luxuries, and once again life seems better.

Here we’ve established a lie – a false assumption about money.  We now believe (and experience has taught) that the more money I make, the better life becomes.  But the irony is that when you don’t know how much is enough, you keep seeking, pursuing, chasing, and hoping to get more happiness out of more money.  At this point, money now has a negative impact.  The more you get, the more miserable you become so you try to get more to make you happier again.  But it doesn’t work.  You’re stuck in a cycle where money seems to be the only solution to every problem.

What’s the solution?

Knowing how much is enough.

About four years ago, my wife and I sat down and asked each other how much would be enough for our family.

Determining how much is enough has been one of the wisest and most liberating discoveries we’ve made as a family.

True to that decision we made years ago, when our income exceeds our enough line, we’re able to give.  Perhaps it’s only because we know our tendency towards greed, but it’s nice to know that our spending doesn’t need to line up with our income.  It’s been liberating to know that we earn enough.  It’s freed our hearts of an unhealthy pursuit of more.  It’s made our prayer life richer to know that God’s blessed us above what we need.  It’s allowed us to be blessed by actively participating in the needs of others.

Where is your line in the sand?  How much is enough for you and your family?

If you don’t ever decide, you’ll always be the donkey that’s chasing a carrot tied to a stick.  You’ll always be two feet away from your destination.

Comments

  1. says

    Great points, Craig, and I agree. Since we are immersed in a culture that places value on individuals based on external things like job titles and possessions, it is difficult to avoid the temptation to compare ourselves with others. Thus we find ourselves engaged in a constant struggle between contentment and desire, even though we *know* that true contentment can really only come from an overall sense of gratitude borne out of a personal relationship with Christ.

    It ain’t easy.

  2. says

    The answer to this is contentment, if we can be contented we are then able to be comfortable and fulfilled Hebrews 13:4-5. also the bible says he that loveth wealth would never be satisfied.

  3. says

    This reminds me of one of my favourite quotes from the wise Buddha, “Health is the greatest gift, contentment the greatest wealth, faithfulness the best relationship.” As people we have a tendency of not ever getting satisfied, those who learn to find true happiness and probably enjoy a fuller peaceful life.

  4. says

    Contentment is a financial and spiritual discipline, one which many in the first world need to learn. We have so blown out of proportion what we “need” that we have a hard time distinguishing essentials from non essentials. As my wife and I have lowered the cost bar for what we need, it has freed up so much of our money. It has been awesome. Thanks for this post.

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