I’ve never had or desired a lot, and my research on income inequality this summer supplemented the feelings of my heart and my mind as a Christian. It proved to be another moment where the secular studies of the world agreed with what the Bible tells us. I found a lot of the research to be applicable: for example when people’s needs are met, happiness plateaus even as people earn more money;1 spending things according to your personality makes you the happiest;2 and lastly, across all spectrums, people were happier to give money away or buy things for others if they were not forced to.3 The people in the last study were given various amounts of money and told to either spend it on themselves or to spend it on another person. While people who spent the money on themselves found no considerable difference in their happiness, people who gave the money away or spent it on others were found to be considerably happier than the day before they were given money.
In a church context, how we spend our money comes back to 2 Corinthians 9:7, which says that “[e]ach of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” Give as you are called, to the church, to your family, to anyone, for giving from the heart produces happiness, and giving under obligation causes pain. Furthermore, as Christians, our minds should be set differently on the things of this life concerning finances, living, and providing.
How often do I consider, care for, and connect with the poor and needy around me? Paul writes, “For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of fairness your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness.” (2 Corinthians 8:13-14). I come from a low-income background, and yet I do not consider the needy around me. Instead of spending on what would make me happier, what God calls me to do, and what I know I should do, I care more about my abundance now than giving back out of my overflow. I know giving will make me happier, and the Bible calls me to give more, yet in my sin and dissonance I think holding onto these treasures of wealth will make me happy.
Ethan Hooper is a sophomore in Kirkland House studying Psychology
|↑1||Martin, Emmie. “Here’s How Much Money You Need to Be Happy, According to a New Analysis by Wealth Experts.” CNBC. CNBC, November 20, 2017. https://www.cnbc.com/2017/11/20/how-much-money-you-need-to-be-happy-according-to-wealth-experts.html.|
|↑2||Matz, Sandra C., Joe J. Gladstone, and David Stillwell. “Money Buys Happiness When Spending Fits Our Personality.” Psychological Science 27, no. 5 (2016): 715–25. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797616635200.|
|↑3||Norton, Michael. “Can Money Buy You Happiness?” NPR. NPR, April 4, 2014. https://www.npr.org/transcripts/297888687.|