Did you ever notice that people mean very different things when they refer to “the American Dream”? Colleges say it is earning the degree that opens the best career. Realtors say it is finally owning a home. Investment bankers say it is having a nest egg for the future. Executives say it is reaching the top of the ladder. Which of these is right? Are these dreams worth dreaming?
Beneath all of the American dream language is the idea that wealth leads to a secure, fulfilled life. Most people would claim that more money would solve their problems. Lottery tickets are bought by the thousands every day in the hope that luck will bring about true happiness.
The Bible is a lot less confident in wealth as a panacea. Paul writes,
17 As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. (I Timothy 6:17, ESV)
Riches are uncertain. Ask Enron investors or stock holders in 1929. Even Jesus knew that moths, rust, and thieves are among the worries of the wealthy (Matthew 6:19). Riches promise to fix problems, but when money is the focus, there never seems to be enough. Too often, the love of money creeps in to destroy hearts that were caught up in reaching for an elusive dream.
In contrast, Paul urges us to set our hopes on God – the only true security. It is He who will turn around and richly provide. He gives what we need and also “everything to enjoy”. Unlike the ephemeral American dream, God’s promise is guaranteed for this life and the next.