What’s wrong with the American Dream?

The American Dream tells us if we pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and work hard, we too can have the picture perfect family, the house with the white picket fence and a comfortable retirement. The goal is to reach a position of safety, comfort, and abundance. So we do whatever it takes to climb to the top, to make more money, to buy more things, so we can enjoy success for ourselves and no one else.

That’s not what God wants for us.

Working hard to earn a decent wage and put food on the table isn’t wrong; it’s a good thing that God commends (2 Thessalonians 3:10 and 1 Timothy 5:8). But Jesus offers us a better life than the American Dream can deliver.

Jesus offers us a better life than the American Dream can deliver.

Before we can embrace what Jesus has for us, we must acknowledge the lies we’ve been told by the American Dream.

Three Lies We Believe from the American Dream

1.  Your earnings are yours alone.

When we experience financial success, we tend to think it’s only because of our smarts and hard work. In reality, everything belongs to God and is from God (Deuteronomy 8:18). He’s the one who gives us the ability to work in the first place, so we should be humble rather than proudly brag about what we’ve earned and hoard it for ourselves.

2. Believe in yourself and achieve success.

We’ve all heard “If you believe in yourself and work hard enough, you can be anything you want to be!”

That’s a lie because it’s based on the false assumption that we don’t need Jesus in every part of our lives. Jesus created all things and holds everything together, which means we desperately need Him to be involved in our lives (Colossians 1:17).

If Jesus wasn’t at work in us, we’d only be able to earn one thing: death (Romans 6:23). But thanks to His grace, we’re no longer dead. He’s given us new life and direction.

3. More wealth and comfort means a better life.

Jesus promises His followers a meaningful, abundant life – but it’s not the kind of abundance the American Dream promises (John 10:10). A better life isn’t about achieving comfort. It’s about receiving God’s gift of salvation and joyfully moving forward with Him through the conflicts we face (James 1:2-4).

God is a generous giver, and He gives us more than we could ever earn. Rather than demanding something from us—like the American Dream demands success at all costs—Jesus gives us Himself. And it’s in Jesus we find eternal security and hope we could never accomplish by our own efforts.

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