Bible Reading: Matthew 6, NKJV
A big house on several acres with multiple cars in the driveway. A prosperous life full of comfort and free from suffering. The opportunity to plot your own course and achieve your dreams through hard work and diligence.
These are a few examples of what some consider the American Dream, that national ethos which was summarized in the Declaration of Independence: “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
On the surface, this is almost all you could ever ask for; the opportunity to choose your own way and have the freedom to pick your path to happiness. It’s certainly something that is not promised in other parts of the world. Many would give everything they have to come to the United States and pursue the American Dream.
I must ask, though: how’s your American Dream going? Are you finding the happiness you’re free to pursue, or has your American Dream become a nightmare?
You see, I love the idea of the American Dream. I love the belief that we all have opportunities in this great country, and if we’re willing to work and sacrifice, we can reap the benefits. With that said, there’s a bit of an inherent risk with that attitude. When it’s all about me (I’m working hard, I’m making my way, I’m going to do what I need to get ahead), it leaves very little room for the One who has promised that He has a plan for us.
I believe in the American Dream and agree that we should all work hard, for the Bible has plenty to say about downfalls of laziness. But I also believe that it’s impossible to find true and lasting peace and happiness through simply chasing prosperity and comfort.
Jesus said, “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” (Matt. 6:19-21, ESV).
I don’t think I’m going too far out on a limb by assuming that many of you reading this are struggling with something in your lives. Maybe the American Dream has come true for you and you have all the money that you could ever need, but you’re finding that the material possessions aren’t buying you any happiness. Or maybe you’ve worked hard every day of your life but nothing has come easy, and it feels like you’re spinning your wheels with little hope of ever catching up, let alone getting ahead.
Regardless of where you are in the journey, I’d humbly suggest that you examine your life and see if everything you’re amassing—both your successes and struggles—are bringing you happiness and hope. Truly consider if you’ve allowed Jesus to consume your life. Are you following His path and calling, rather than your own?
The American Dream is fine—incredible, in fact—but don’t forget that for Christians “our citizenship is in heaven” (Phil. 3:20, ESV). By turning your eyes to Jesus, you not only find joy here on earth, but have hope for eternity as well.
Have you surrendered your life to Jesus as Savior? Visit PeaceWithGod.net to learn more.
Scripture Reference: Matthew 6
1 “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven.
2 Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.
3 But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,
4 that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.
5 “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.
6 But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.
7 And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.
8 “Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.
9 In this manner, therefore, pray:
Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
10 Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
13 And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
14 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
16 “Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.
17 But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,
18 so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.
19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal;
20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.
21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
22 “The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light.
23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?
26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin;
29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’
32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.