Better a dry crust with peace than a house full of feasting with strife" (Proverbs 17:1). Or to put this proverb another way, "Better to have little materially with peace than material abundance with strife."

A University of Southern California study entitled "Explaining Happiness" compiled responses from around 1,500 people in a survey that lasted almost 30 years. Participants ranging from early adulthood to retirement recorded their feelings, responses and all pertinent information during this time period and researchers tallied the results.

USC economist Richard Easterlin stated: "Many people are under the illusion that the more money we make, the happier we’ll be. So we put all our resources into making money at the expense of our family and health. The problem is we don’t realize our material wants increase with the amount of money we make. We always think the more money we make the happier we’ll be. This illusion leads us to misallocate time to material pursuits."

This secular study concluded that finding happiness in "stuff" was an "illusion." Whether they acknowledge it or not, they also reaffirmed what the Bible has been telling us from the beginning: "Stuff" won’t make you happy. Money won’t make you happy. Nothing in this world will make you happy. Happiness begins with a sold-out commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ. And in this relationship, believers learn to prioritize their time not around things, but around people. They learn to "love one another."

Are you wishing you had more "stuff?" Are you struggling to pay for the "stuff" you’ve already accumulated? There is far greater peace in having paid-for things than owed-for things. There is far greater peace in not worrying about impressing other people but in impressing the Lord with your obedience, love and faithfulness.

Want to avoid a lot of strife? Stop looking for your satisfaction in things and start working on a deeper relationship with Jesus.

"Why do you spend money ... on what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to me ... Pay attention and come to me; listen, so that you will live ... Seek the Lord ..." (Isaiah 55:2a, 3a, 6a).


Judy Woodward Bates is a freelance writer, author, speaker and creator of Bargainomics, a Bible-based time and money management philosophy, and the author of "The Gospel Truth about Money Management." Visit her website at www.bargainomics.com.

© 2006 Baptist Press. Used with permission. All rights reserved.