4 Things Money Can’t Buy

Reaching certain financial thresholds is often perceived in our culture as arriving, as finding success. LOL. I remember landing my first job at Jack’s Hamburgers at the age of 15 and believing that I had struck oil like Jed Clampett. I celebrated with leaps across Cloud Nine as I imagined what $4.25 an hour would mean for me. I could buy whatever I wanted! I had arrived!

I worked at Jack’s for two shifts over two days and earned about $40 before taxes. Then I quit. Two days!

At the time Jack’s couldn’t have paid me enough money to come in for another shift. Aside from the fact that I had to rise at 4am or so and ride a few miles to work on a ten-speed bike (in order to make those hot and fresh biscuits), I also had a mean boss — she was an assistant manager, I think — who apparently thought I should have a doctorate in biscuitology by the end of the first hour on the job. “Can you get any slower?” She asked me out loud on the first day. Forget your $4.25 per hour, I’m outta here!

Scripture teaches this:

Proverbs 1:19 Such is the fate of all who are greedy for money; it robs them of life. (NLT)

And this:

Proverbs 11:28 Whoever trusts in his riches will fall. (ESV)

And this:

Matthew 6:19-21 Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (ESV)

All these verses, and plenty of others, have something in common; they show that there are some things money just can’t buy. Oddly enough, many people are convinced otherwise. If a billionaire tycoon can buy the presidency (that hasn’t happened yet, but who knows), then money is all one needs to succeed. At least that’s what people often think. To lounge on the deck of one’s own personal yacht is a symbol of true happiness and contentment.

But this belief is totally deceptive, and to prove the point, here are 4 things money will never be able to buy.

[1] Wisdom

A wise person has knowledge and is able to use it. A wise person understands life and the world and is able to use this understanding to bring about successful living patterns. Wisdom cannot be purchased. In fact, Solomon directly contrasts the value of wisdom over money:

Proverbs 16:16 How much better to get wisdom than gold! To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.

Just because a person has obtained a high level of financial success does not mean she is wise. Money can be obtained in very unwise ways (stealing, corruption, workaholism, etc), and the person who pursues money as her most prized possession is filled with pure folly.

[2] Contentment

Just ask Mark Zuckerberg — If money was most important to him, he would not be setting up ways to give massive amounts of it away. He has learned the lesson, though not as a Christian, that money will never fill the emptiness of the heart (in Zuckerberg’s case, however, he will find out that generosity alone can’t do it either, unless it is coupled with truth). Human beings are designed in such a way that we need something more than wealth to be truly content. As I learned at Jack’s, money can’t buy peace of mind (maybe I should have tried founding Facebook instead).

How Christ Defeats
Darkness, Demons, and Death
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Scripture is clear that true and lasting contentment only comes to the person who is in a right relationship with God through Christ.

Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

When people believe money will give them contentment and peace of mind, they are on a fool’s errand. Their pursuit of money will actually hinder their ability to find real contentment:

1 Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

[3] Love

The Beatles taught us this one: “Can’t buy me love. No! No!” And they were right! Sure, money can be used to help people we love, but it can’t make them love us back.

Many parents have learned this lesson the hard way by spoiling kids with too many toys, hoping to win their affection forever. How shocking when the child grows up despising his parents instead! You can’t buy their love!

How many men sought to earn the love of a young maiden by flashing cash, buying flowers and diamonds and all the rest? How many young maidens have demanded their love be bought? Building a relationship on the premise of financial abundance is a very bad idea and typically leads to grave disappointment. (Page, if you are reading this, I’m not saying guys should never buy their gals gifts! I’m only saying genuine, heart-felt love is not the kind of thing that can be purchased.)

Real love (biblically speaking) is the willing sacrifice of self for the good of the beloved. God designed people to find great joy in receiving this kind of love and also in giving it to others. To love God and to love other people, in fact, is to keep the whole of the Ten Commandments (see Matthew 22:37-40). These are things that money just can’t buy.

[4] Salvation

The greatest desire of every human soul is to be “saved.” Of course, Christians use this term in a unique way, referring to the soul-saving work of Christ on the cross to forgive us our sins:

1 Corinthians 1:18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

But non-Christians are also looking for “salvation,” albeit they looking for it in someone other than Jesus.

To be “saved” (generally speaking) means to be okay, both in the short-term and the long-term. It means that life is joyful and worth living. It means to successfully avoid suffering and to be free from things that hinder true happiness.

Money just can’t buy this. A yacht can’t provide it. A mansion or beach house will always fall short. Long and numerous vacations can’t bring it about either. Salvation must come from another source. Jesus taught us this:

Matthew 19:23-24 “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”

Additionally, God does not give salvation through Christ to people who pay for it. He states explicitly that he doesn’t “sell” salvation and that no amount of money can be used to secure it.

Isaiah 55:1 “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.”

True and lasting salvation (being joyful for eternity and avoiding eternal suffering) is a free gift. If it were for sale, even Trump couldn’t afford it. But its not for sale. All one must do is come to the waters and drink.

Having money has some minor advantages in this world, there is no doubt about that. But the most important things we need cannot be purchased with cash or credit.

The classic sermon from
Jonathan Edwards
Updated for today’s readers
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