How much is enough?

“…for God has been gracious to me
and I have all I need.”
Genesis 33:11 (NIV)

One of the world’s wealthiest men was being interviewed some time ago. The person doing the interview reflected on how exceptionally rich the man was and asked him the question in the title of our devotional today. “How much is enough?” Tragically the remarkably wealthy man responded, “Just a little more.”

It had been estimated that because of the rate of income for this particular person he would never run out of money suppose he spent a million dollars a day for the rest of his life. His businesses supplied such a substantial revenue that he could not spend himself into poverty if he tried.

The man we quoted in our verse today was named Jacob. He is speaking to his brother Esau. Jacob had cheated Esau out of his inheritance years earlier and had to flee for his life. Now after a very long time the two brothers were reunited and Jacob had offered a peace offering to the offended Esau. Esau at first graciously refused the gift but then Jacob insisted and said that he had enough and to spare, thus the gift would not bankrupt him if Esau accepted.

In our modern society we can be too easily caught up in the trap of desiring more than we need. When we look around and see others with desirable things we do not have we soon become dissatisfied with our portion in life and long for, “Just a little more.”

The trap may be sprung on our desires by an ad in the newspaper or on TV. We read of a newer car, or bigger home, or even a fine vacation property that is for sale. The ads sound so appealing as we learn about all the special features of the product. We wonder how we lived so long without the thing in the ad.

The catchy phrases in the ad tell us we deserve the advertised product, or we are told to indulge ourselves, or some such idea. The efforts of manufacturers are not always subtle and we are caught up in greed that we never thought we possessed.

But, on the other hand, when life deals us a really hard blow and we are suddenly below the average in health, wealth, loved ones, or other truly valuable treasures, we can be overwhelmed with sorrow and grief. The loss of a bodily function through aging or accident, the departure of a spouse through death or divorce, finding that our own children do not want anything to do with us, all of these and other serious losses can cause our entire world to collapse. These are especially difficult situations to handle.

What can we say then? Can we look at what is left of our lives and say what remains is enough? Through the centuries, those who love God find He is enough when the treasures of this life fade away. A man named Asaph said that his entire life was plagued and full of punishment because of his extreme poverty. However, when he finally saw the end of the wicked, he revised his thoughts about life and saw that he had what was really necessary, he had his God. So he said, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.” Psalm 73:25. Can you say as much today?

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