Does Money Really Bring Happiness?

May 22, 2024

By Michael, New Zealand

When I was eight years old, my family experienced an unforeseen incident. From then on, my mother and I were dependent on each other to get by, and she took me back to our home in the countryside. At that time, we were utterly destitute. Other people lived in multi-story homes, while we were just in a tile-roofed hut; we were very hard up. I envied others and hoped that I would earn a lot of money when I grew up so that my mother and I could have financial security. In order to make money, I didn’t continue my education after graduating from high school. Back then, the brothers and sisters wanted me to join the church and live the church life. However, I was worried that gathering would get in the way of me earning money. I was still quite young, and I’d have to get married and make a living in the future. I’d need money for everything I did. So, I rejected the kind words and advice of the brothers and sisters and resolutely stepped onto the path of pursuing money, fame, and gain.

I did construction work and also worked as a porter. Later, I studied marketing and did business with some relatives. Eventually, business was on the up and up, and the small shop we started with expanded into a small company with a dozen or so employees in just a few years. At that young age, I became a boss and made some money. My family’s financial situation improved, I bought a home, and I was able to cover all basic life expenses. Although I made more and more money and my fleshly life was satisfied, I became increasingly unhappy. For the sake of making money, I had to put on an air of cheerfulness with clients, flattering and fawning on them, and lying and cheating people became my daily routine. I would stop at nothing to serve my own interests and didn’t live like a human at all. In the past, I had seen that God’s words tell us to be honest people. Each time I thought of this, I had an extremely guilty conscience. On top of that, every day I was putting all my time and energy into the business, always keeping a good mood and attitude with clients. When they called me to arrange something, I would handle it right away, as if I was responding to an imperial decree. However, when my mother wanted me to help her with housework or chat with her, I always told her I was busy and asked her not to bother me. I didn’t attend gatherings, and I barely prayed at all. My condition was entirely that of a faithless nonbeliever. Because connections were very important in business, every day I was thinking about how to maintain relationships with clients. No matter who I was dealing with, as long as they could bring me interests, I would compliment them and speak insincere words to please them. I was disgusted by this behavior of mine. I became increasingly hypocritical and deceitful, and it had truly reached the point where I was acting two-faced. I hated myself more and more, and also hated this means of survival.

Several years after, when COVID was spreading around the country, I got infected, and my whole body was in great pain. Several hours before my symptoms started, I was brimming with energy, busying myself with various business matters, when suddenly, I lacked the strength to even stand up. I lay in bed, all my muscles aching painfully, and my head felt like it was going to explode. Since I had a high fever that wouldn’t go down, my lips got chapped. I was vomiting and having diarrhea; I felt awful, as if death wasn’t too far away. That was when I felt how fragile and small man is. At that time, I began to reflect, thinking, “What on earth am I living like this for?” Past events appeared scene-by-scene in my mind like clips from a movie, and I thought, “Every day, I’ve been racking my brains for ways to make more money, spouting lies and tricking people. Am I really living just to desperately make money and work like this? Is it all just to satisfy my vanity and self-respect, to make people think highly of me? Just to indulge in food, drink, and enjoyments? Is this my purpose in life? Is this all that my life consists of? Am I really going to die like this?” Thinking of this, I was filled with deep remorse. I regretted that I hadn’t properly believed in God and lived the church life from the outset. I was very regretful, and I wasn’t willing to die like this. I thought of God’s words which I’d read in the past: “All manner of disasters will befall, one after another; all nations and places will experience calamities: Plague, famine, flood, drought, and earthquakes are everywhere. These disasters are not just happening in one or two places, nor will they be over within a day or two; rather, instead they will expand across a greater and greater area, and become more and more severe. During this time, all manner of insect plagues will arise one after another, and the phenomenon of cannibalism will occur everywhere. This is My judgment upon all nations and peoples(The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Utterances of Christ in the Beginning, Chapter 65). “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 live on, exempt from death. But only when they are about to die 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 may be, no matter how lofty their position, all are equally poor and insignificant 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. The more people feel this way, the more they yearn to keep on living; the more people feel this way, the more they dread the approach of death. Only at this point do they truly realize that their lives do not belong to them, are not theirs to control, and that one has no say over whether one lives or dies—that all of this lies outside of one’s control(The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. God Himself, the Unique III). Actually, I’d read these words a number of times before. Although I was afraid of calamities, as long as they didn’t happen to me, I always felt that they were quite distant and went on pursuing wealth and pursuing the life I wanted as I’d done before. Now, I was lying in bed with my whole body in pain, at my wit’s end, and only then did I understand that although wealth could bring people some material enjoyments, it was truly useless when facing COVID. I finally realized that I was truly ignorant and blind. I was so intransigent! Looking at it closely, even though I believed in God, I’d completely ignored His words and never halted my pursuit of wealth, fame, and gain; this had been my true attitude toward God and His words. Only when I was infected with COVID did I begin to self-reflect. I thought of what the Lord Jesus said: “What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?(Matthew 16:26). I finally had a bit of firsthand understanding on what these words meant. One truly can’t use money to buy life! I managed to turn over in bed and knelt down to pray, “Almighty God, I am so ignorant and blind. I have only myself to blame for reaching this point in my life. You’ve been saving me all this time, using the brothers and sisters to repeatedly invite me to participate in the church life, but I never wanted to accept it and rejected Your salvation. God, I am so regretful. Now, I understand that money cannot buy health or buy life. I’ve always pursued money, wanting to use it to improve my life, but in order to earn money, I lived in physical and emotional exhaustion, and it nearly did me in. I don’t want to go on living in such a painful way. I don’t want to keep living like a hypocrite in this environment of mutual deception that is filled with cheating and lies. God, please forgive me and let me have one more chance. Please save me!” That was how I prayed and repented. Although my physical pain did not lessen one bit, at that moment, my heart felt as warm as a child huddled up in their parent’s embrace.

The next day, my mother heard I’d been infected and came to take care of me. She read me many of Almighty God’s words, and some of them left a deep impression on me. Almighty God says: “Satan uses fame and gain to control man’s thoughts, until all people 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 for the sake of fame and gain. In this way, Satan binds people with invisible shackles, and they have neither the strength nor the courage to throw them off. They unknowingly bear these shackles and trudge ever onward with great difficulty. For the sake of this fame and gain, mankind shuns God and betrays Him and becomes increasingly wicked. In this way, therefore, one generation after another is destroyed in the midst of Satan’s fame and gain(The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. God Himself, the Unique VI). “‘Money makes the world go round’ is a philosophy of Satan. It prevails among the whole of mankind, in every human society; you could say it is a trend. This is because it has been instilled in the heart of every single person, who at first did not accept this saying, but then gave it tacit acceptance when they came into contact with real life, and began to feel that these words were in fact true. Is this not a process of Satan corrupting man? Perhaps people do not understand this saying to the same degree, but everyone has different degrees of interpretation and acknowledgment of this saying based on things that have happened around them and on their own personal experiences. Is that not the case? Regardless of how much experience someone has with this saying, what is the negative effect that it can have on someone’s heart? Something is revealed through the human disposition of the people in this world, including each and every one of you. What is it? It is the worship of money. Is it hard to remove this from someone’s heart? It is very hard! It seems that Satan’s corruption of man is deep indeed! Satan uses money to tempt people, and corrupts them into worshiping money and venerating material things. And how is this worship of money manifested in people? Do you feel that you could not survive in this world without any money, that even one day without money would be impossible? People’s status is based on how much money they have, as is the respect they command. The backs of the poor are bent in shame, while the rich enjoy their high status. They stand tall and proud, speaking loudly and living arrogantly. What does this saying and trend bring to people? Is it not true that many people make any sacrifice in the pursuit of money? Do many people not lose their dignity and integrity in the pursuit of more money? Do many people not lose the opportunity to perform their duty and follow God for the sake of money? Is losing the chance to gain the truth and be saved not the greatest of all losses for people? Is Satan not sinister to use this method and this saying to corrupt man to such a degree? Is this not a malicious trick?(The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. God Himself, the Unique V). Reading Almighty God’s words, I felt that each sentence was the truth. The words He spoke were so correct, and they cut right to the depths of my heart. I was the same as what God had exposed: always worshiping money, acting according to the idea of “money over all.” I believed that if I had money, I’d have everything and be able to live an upper-class life, to live as I pleased and be thought highly of by others, whereas if I didn’t have money, I wouldn’t be able to do a thing. Through what God’s words exposed, I saw Satan’s maliciousness and despicable motives. Satan used money, fame, and gain to control my mind, causing me to get lost deep inside these things and turn chasing money into the goal and direction I pursued in life, thereby making me shun and betray God and become more and more deceitful, wicked, and greedy, setting me up to be destroyed along with Satan in the end. In the past, I had always lived by the ideas that Satan instilled in me, my mind set on nothing but money, fame, and gain. I believed that people couldn’t do a thing without money, and that those who had money could enjoy a better life and get others to think highly of them. This seemingly simple belief bound me with invisible chains, keeping me firmly under Satan’s control, without a trace of courage to struggle free. This was how I’d been duped and corrupted by Satan. For the sake of money, fame, and gain, I became detached and heartless, doing things by hook or by crook, full of lies and cheating. I wasn’t living like a human being whatsoever. After earning some money, I went traveling all over, wanting to ease my pain. In reality, this was only a temporary way to numb myself. Even though I’d put all my energy and time into work, wanting this to enrich my life, I could never shake off the emptiness that I felt inside. It was God’s words that awakened my heart. I began to closely examine my pursuits, and I didn’t want to keep persistently pursuing money, fame, and gain. These things were not as all-powerful as I had imagined. When I was lying in bed, unable to get up, material enjoyments and money all seemed so insignificant. Money cannot save man’s life, and it is not the root of man’s existence. It does not free people from pain.

Then, I began seeking as to how I should pursue in order to live a life of value and meaning. At that time, I read these words of God: “As someone who is normal, and who pursues the love of God, entry into the kingdom to become one of the people of God is your true future, and a life that is of the utmost value and significance; no one is more blessed than you. Why do I say this? Because those who do not believe in God live for the flesh, and they live for Satan, but today you live for God, and live to follow the will of God. That is why I say your lives are of the utmost significance. Only this group of people, who have been selected by God, are able to live out a life of the utmost significance: No one else on earth is able to live out a life of such value and meaning(The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Know God’s Newest Work and Follow His Footsteps). “Regardless of what duty one performs, it is the most proper thing they could do, the most beautiful and just thing among humankind. As created beings, people ought to perform their duty, as only then can they receive the approval of the Creator. Created beings live under the Creator’s dominion, and they accept all that is provided by God and everything that comes from God, so they should fulfill their responsibilities and obligations. This is perfectly natural and justified, and was ordained by God. From this it can be seen that, for people to perform the duty of a created being is more just, beautiful, and noble than anything else done while living on earth; nothing among humankind is more meaningful or worthy, and nothing brings greater meaning and worth to the life of a created person, than performing the duty of a created being. On earth, only the group of people who truly and sincerely perform the duty of a created being are those who submit to the Creator. This group does not follow worldly trends; they submit to the leadership and guidance of God, only listen to the words of the Creator, accept the truths expressed by the Creator, and live by the words of the Creator. This is the truest, most resounding testimony, and it is the best testimony of faith in God. For a created being to be able to perform the duty of a created being, to be able to satisfy the Creator, is the most beautiful thing among humankind, and is something that should be spread as a tale to be praised by all people. Anything the Creator entrusts to created beings should be unconditionally accepted by them; for humankind, this is a matter of both happiness and privilege, and for all those who are capable of performing the duty of a created being, nothing is more beautiful or worthy of commemoration—it is something positive(The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Nine (Part Seven)). Through reading God’s words, I found a direction in life. I understood that as a created being, one should live to pursue the truth, to satisfy God’s intentions, and to gain the approval of the Creator. As a created being, one ought to take up their duty and fulfill their responsibility; there is nothing more valuable or meaningful than this. In following Satan and pursuing money, fame, and gain, not only can one not gain true happiness, they will also become increasingly selfish and greedy. Ultimately, they’ll be totally captured by Satan and fall into infinite pain. Now, God’s work of the last days was almost over; if I still couldn’t seize this chance to believe in God properly, I was truly too foolish. I didn’t want to go on being harmed by the ideas Satan had instilled in me, and I made up my mind to break away from this life of pain. By my third day of being laid up in bed, I still had a fever, but I wasn’t in as much pain. I said to my mother, “I want to attend gatherings.” Before long, I started living the church life, and I thanked God in my heart. God had given me another chance to return to His house, and I had to cherish it properly; I couldn’t fail to live up to His intentions.

However, I still had a dilemma in front of me. I had some long-standing clients in my business, and even though I was no longer trying so desperately to expand the business, I still invested my energy into it. I was ill at ease during gatherings, unable to calm my heart down before God. When the gatherings finished, I would take out my phone and see nothing but missed calls and messages from clients. At each gathering, I would experience all sorts of disturbances. I remember that one time, I was on the way to a gathering when I had to take a sudden call from a client who needed some goods urgently. I had almost arrived at the place where we were gathering, but, giving in to the client’s pressure, I went to the gathering place and informed the brothers and sisters that something had come up, and then left in a hurry. I felt that this was interfering too much with the gatherings, and I wanted to let go of the business, but I was very conflicted. In the past, I was meeting with clients all day long, wanting to maintain my relationships with them by any means necessary. If I stopped now and wasted all my previous efforts, it would really be a shame. I wanted to attend gatherings, but couldn’t let go of money, so I prayed to God and asked Him to show me a way out.

One day, I read a passage of God’s words: “If I were to place some money in front of you right now and give you the freedom to choose—and if I did not condemn you for your choice—then most of you would choose the money and forsake the truth. The better among you would give up the money and choose the truth reluctantly, while those in-between would seize the money in one hand and the truth in the other. Would your true colors thus not become self-evident? When choosing between the truth and anything to which you are loyal, you would all make this choice, and your attitude would remain the same. Is that not so? Are there not many among you who have seesawed between right and wrong? In contests between positive and negative, black and white, you are surely aware of the choices that you have made between family and God, children and God, peace and disruption, riches and poverty, status and ordinariness, being supported and being cast aside, and so on. Between a peaceful family and a broken one, you chose the former, and you did so without any hesitation; between riches and duty, you again chose the former, even lacking the will to return to shore; between luxury and poverty, you chose the former; when choosing between your sons, daughters, wives and husbands, and Me, you chose the former; and between notion and truth, you once again chose the former. Faced with all manner of your evil deeds, I have simply lost faith in you. It simply astounds Me that your hearts are so resistant to being softened. Many years of dedication and effort have apparently brought Me nothing more than your abandonment and despair, but My hopes for you grow with each passing day, for My day has been completely laid bare before everyone. Yet you persist in seeking dark and evil things, and refuse to loosen your grip on them. What, then, will be your outcome? Have you ever given careful consideration to this? If you were asked to choose again, what then would be your position? Would it still be the former? Would you still bring Me disappointment and wretched sorrow? Would your hearts still possess the sole modicum of warmth? Would you still be unaware of what to do to comfort My heart? At this moment, what do you choose? Will you submit to My words or be averse to them?(The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. To Whom Are You Loyal?). After reading God’s words, I recognized that just as God said, I was someone who seized money in one hand and the truth in the other. Although I had seen clearly that money couldn’t save man’s life, that it wasn’t the root of man’s existence, and that it couldn’t free people from pain, I still couldn’t withstand its temptation. When I’d had business waiting to be done that conflicted with the gathering time, I had put money first and been unable to make the correct choice. Hadn’t I been so stubborn and senseless? I was just as God’s words had exposed: “Yet you persist in seeking dark and evil things, and refuse to loosen your grip on them.” My heart was so intransigent and willful, I didn’t comprehend God’s thoughtfulness in the slightest, and I hadn’t fully understood how God persists in waiting for man. I wanted to believe in God properly; I couldn’t fail to live up to His intentions any longer. However, I knew that my stature was small and that I couldn’t get past this on my own. I urgently prayed to God, “God! I want to break free from this life. I’m busy with working and earning money all day, and I’m unable to calmly read Your words and gather. Living like this has seriously affected my church life. God, please show me a way out. I truly want to change; please give me the faith and strength to break free from this life of pain.”

Later, during a gathering, I read two passages of God’s words that touched my heart deeply. God’s words say: “Eyes that are full of deceit and prejudice toward others are not things that young people should have, and young people should not carry out destructive, abominable acts. They should not be without ideals, aspirations, and an enthusiastic desire to better themselves; they should not be disheartened about their prospects, and nor should they lose hope in life or confidence in the future; they should have the perseverance to continue along the way of truth that they have now chosen—to realize their wish to expend their entire lives for Me. They should not be without the truth, nor should they harbor hypocrisy and unrighteousness—they should stand firm in the proper stance. They should not just drift along, but should have the spirit to dare to make sacrifices and to struggle for justice and truth. Young people should have the bravery to not succumb to oppression by the forces of darkness and to transform the significance of their existence. Young people should not resign themselves to adversity, but should be open and frank, with a spirit of forgiveness for their brothers and sisters. … Young people should not be without the resolve to exercise discernment in issues and to seek justice and the truth. You should pursue all things beautiful and good, and you should obtain the reality of all positive things. You should be responsible toward your life, and you must not take it lightly(The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Words for the Young and the Old). “Awaken, brothers! Awaken, sisters! My day will not be delayed; time is life, and to seize back time is to save life! The time is not far off! If you fail the college entrance examination, you can study and retake it as many times as you like. However, My day will brook no further delay. Remember! Remember! I urge you with these good words. The end of the world unfolds before your very eyes, and great disasters rapidly draw near. Which is more important: your life, or your sleep, your food and drink and clothing? The time has come for you to weigh these things(The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Utterances of Christ in the Beginning, Chapter 30). Reading these words of God, my heart was so touched, and I thought, “I’ve already missed out on several chances, and I won’t get that time back. Nowadays, the situation in all countries is turbulent, with earthquakes, wars, the pandemic, and other natural and man-made disasters going on nonstop. I won’t get many more opportunities to pursue the truth and follow God. If I keep missing out, I might miss out forever; I might never have another chance. Am I really going to wait until I’m faced with death to believe in God? Will that not be too late? What’s more important, making money or my life? It’s time for me to weigh all this.” I got a sense of God’s intentions and demands for young people from His words that said: “Young people should have the bravery to not succumb to oppression by the forces of darkness and to transform the significance of their existence(The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Words for the Young and the Old). God’s words gave me faith and strength. No longer could I go on being stubborn and senseless like this. I shouldn’t live for money, fame, and gain; what I ought to do was walk the path of believing in God and pursuing the truth. I needed to bring my past life to an end, and so I made up my mind to let go of this business.

After that, I mentioned this idea to my relatives. They did all they could to persuade me not to, saying they would raise both my end-of-year pay and base pay. That way, I would earn more than 10,000 yuan per month, and added together with the end-of-year pay, I’d make almost 200,000 yuan in a year. This was already quite a lot for someone in a small town. I was very tempted, and although it was an attractive offer, I had already made up my mind. I didn’t want to live this life of seizing money in one hand and the truth in the other any longer. Later on, I read more of God’s words: “If you are of high station, of honorable reputation, possessed of abundant knowledge, the owner of plentiful assets, and supported by many people, yet these things do not prevent you from coming before God to accept His calling and His commission and to do what God asks of you, then all that you do shall be the most meaningful cause on earth and the most just undertaking of mankind. If you reject the call of God for the sake of status and your own goals, all that you do shall be cursed and even despised by God(The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Appendix 2: God Presides Over the Fate of All Mankind). In the past, I was living for my flesh and for Satan, only setting my sights on money, fame, and gain. As a result, I became increasingly wicked and corrupt, growing further and further from God and spending each day as a walking corpse. Now, I wanted to change my way of life and wholeheartedly follow God.

Later on, my relatives urged me to stay yet again, and knowing that this was Satan using them to stop me from going before God, I prayed to God and asked Him to show me a way out, “God, I don’t want to keep pursuing money, fame, and gain and walking the wrong path. I want to live a life of meaning and value. Please guide me and give me the faith to overcome this temptation from Satan!” I understood that this was Satan’s way of seducing and winning me over, so with a laugh, I said to my relatives, “I know that your intentions are good, but I want to venture out into the world while I’m still young and not always rely on relatives and friends. I’ve decided already; I’m going to strike out on my own.” My relatives saw that I’d made up my mind, and they respected my choice. I understood that this was God showing me a way out, and I took this chance to let go of my work. After that, I was able to believe in God and attend gatherings with peace of mind, and I began doing my duty. When interacting with brothers and sisters, I no longer had to put on a mask and act hypocritically like when I was doing business. In the church, I could remove all burdens and pretenses. If I had any issues, I could pray to God, and I could open my heart to the brothers and sisters and communicate with them, and they would help me sincerely and wholeheartedly. I could feel how genuine and kind the brothers and sisters were, and I felt warmth. These were things I’d never felt before. I was very happy living like that, and such peacefulness and joy were things that no amount of money could buy! Now, I’ve found a simple, ordinary job, and just having clothes and food is enough for me. I put my time and energy into what is most meaningful and valuable: pursuing the truth and doing my duty well. Thank God for allowing me to get COVID and awakening my numbed heart, and for helping me to see my life’s path and direction clearly and to make the most correct choice.

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