The last 8 weeks have brought ‘less.’ Roads are not so crowded. Days are not as filled with activities. Weekends leave us with time weighing on our hands. Looking ahead, many are coming to grips that they may have to adjust to living with less as the ripple effect of the virus brings job loss, wage cuts, and reduced staffing. That is, at first thought, not generally something to call a blessing, is it? How can less be blessed?
We like big, don’t we? We like options. We like shelves full of 28 brands of products that do the same thing! It makes us feel rich. Amazon™ brings more options than the “Mall of America” right into our living room and MasterCard™ rejoices when we browse those digital pages to buy ‘stuff.’ Do we realize that there is stress that goes with having so many options from which to choose? We like the feeling of importance that comes from a crammed calendar. All those things we do helps us to convince ourselves that we are valuable. But, do we understand that when we cannot sleep because our mind continues to race when we lie down we are getting a message that life is too full?
We are trained to be consumers, to be discontent. We are told that we ‘need’ a new phone, another pair of shoes, more clothing because our economy requires spending. Most products have obsolescence built into them so that we will feel the need to replace them in a couple of years. We think little of creating more debt to get a new house, another car, or to go on a vacation will finally be ‘it.’ But, now a challenging narrative is emerging- one of contentment, one that lets us live with less. Can we accept it? Will we?
Could it be that God is inviting us to a restored sanity?
Might He be asking to ‘consider our ways and be wise?’
One of the choices that Christians make, for God’s sake, is simplicity. What is that? The opposite is complex. God invites us to become people who are transparent, whose motives are clear, whose minds are focused singly on serving Christ Jesus, with a hope that is formed around eternal life. Simplicity flourishes in us when make God more than the “Bread King” who is supposed to feed our desires, instead allowing Him to help us to learn to be contented with who we are, what we have, and where we are.
As we think about the blessing of less, there are some practical things we can do, God helping us.
We stop comparing! Envy is the great enemy of simplicity.
We refuse to create an ‘image’ that we must then work hard to maintain.
We are generous, breaking the hold of ‘stuff’ by sharing, not just out of our excess, but sacrificially.
We learn to thanks for life, as it is, rather than begging God to make it what we think it should be.
We live today, choosing to let Him judge the past, to prepare us for the future.
We learn that saying ‘no’ is an acceptable response; a no to our own hearts demands as well as a no to cultural pressure to conform.
We live within our means, refusing to pile up debt in a vain attempt to create happiness.
Here’s what Jesus said. “Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light. But when your eye is bad, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is! “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matthew 6:22-24, NLT)
What’s your vision for life? If it is a clear vision, fixed on truth, and focused around the goodness of God, you will live freely, soberly, and with contentment. If it is corrupted by materialism, sensuality, celebrity, greed, or other common American ‘values,’ you will descend ever deeper into the confusion of trying to fill the longing for meaning with things that can never satisfy your soul.
Learning new ways to think and live is never easy. I believe that God is inviting us to a new satisfaction, growing out of deep and intimate worship. Right now that isn’t even happening in church buildings but we can worship when we revel in the beauty of a bird’s song, the giggle of a child, the beauty of a sunset – finding the grace He promises ‘for today.’ The choice to become simple will break the chains that keep us enslaved to Self and Satan; serving lesser gods of reputation, things we own, and the things that fill up our days.
Shall we discover the blessing of less?
Spend some time with this word from the Word. These are powerful words that can transform our values.
“Yet true religion with contentment is great wealth.
After all, we didn’t bring anything with us when we came into the world,
and we certainly cannot carry anything with us when we die.
So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.
But people who long to be rich fall into temptation
and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires
that plunge them into ruin and destruction.
For the love of money is at the root of all kinds of evil.
And some people, craving money, have wandered from the faith
and pierced themselves with many sorrows.
But you, Timothy, belong to God; so run from all these evil things,
and follow what is right and good. Pursue a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness.” (1 Timothy 6:6-11, NLT)
Bless the Lord O my soul O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before O my soul
I’ll worship Your holy name
The sun comes up it’s a new day dawning
It’s time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes
You’re rich in love and You’re slow to anger
Your name is great and Your heart is kind
For all Your goodness I will keep on singing
Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find
And on that day when my strength is failing
The end draws near and my time has come
Still my soul will sing Your praise unending
Ten thousand years and then forevermore
Worship Your holy name
Lord I’ll worship Your holy name
Jonas Myrin | Matt Redman © 2011 Atlas Mountain Songs (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing) sixsteps Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing) Thankyou Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing) worshiptogether.com songs (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)
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