(1 John 2: 15-17) 15 Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. 16 For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. 17 And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.
There is freedom in simplicity.
I always thought by now that my life would be much different than it is. I must admit, I have been guilty of measuring my success by the standards of society, against the “American Dream,” and by what I have seen in the lives of others my age. I had imagined more kids, a quiet and settled life in a house somewhere on a shaded street, and a general feeling of easiness that I thought (for some reason unbeknownst to me) would come to my life. I had been lied to by life…by the things that I’d seen and been enticed to dream of for myself…and it took growing (both in age and in spirit) to realize that this particular ideal is not for everyone…
Everything that the world has to offer comes with a price, and it’s up to us to decide (because God is merciful and allows us the freedom of choice), “Am I willing to pay that price?” The world is full of things that have been white-washed and bedazzled…situations and circumstances that have been made to look like the norm…all of which begin to feel like expectations…and when we are not careful about our intentions and our plans, we begin to desire much more than we are ever able to attain without greatly sacrificing our time, our resources, and our core values. That same desire then twists our dreams until they morph into pressures and burdens, and we then become oppressed by a distortion of what used to be pure intentions and innocent goals.
There isn’t anything wrong with working hard to provide nice things for yourself and/or your family, but what can easily happen is, when you become so focused on (and distracted by) perfection and living up to the rest of the world’s standards, you begin to want more and more…and nothing is ever going to be good enough again. You see, when the things of this world become your ultimate goal and prize, there is no space left in your life for Christ to live and move. You may have the house, the cars, the gadgets…you may take big vacations and have the grandest Christmases and birthdays…but at what price? Do you work so hard, at two and three jobs sometimes, just to maintain a way of life that you really can’t afford? Are you so deep in debt that you can’t ever see a way out of it? Do you miss out on making memories and spiritual connections with friends and loved ones because you are always going and working? Do you forfeit your time in worship because your work comes first? These are questions you absolutely must be asking yourselves. We have to be honest with ourselves about our intentions…about the what and why of our lives…because much of the time we are paying a much higher price than we should.
Matthew 6: 33 tells us, Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
I want to encourage you today, if you have been moving at a pace that is unhealthy both physically and spiritually…if you have lost sight of your purpose and God’s will for your family…if you have become beguiled and distracted by what the world has dangled in front of you all of your life, there is always hope…there is always peace…and there is freedom in simplicity. Scale back financially. Make time to sit down and truly enjoy your family. Give as much and as often as you can. Just slow down!! And minimize the stuff. Keep God at the head and the center of your life, and trust Him enough to let Him take the lead. Let go.
All those memories
Didn’t cost us anything
All the shiny cars, perfect yards
Chasin’ store bought dreams
We work so hard to have it all
When all the things we want are free
– Free by Little Big Town
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I realize that I cannot love both the world and You, so I ask that You would forgive me for setting my sights on excess when I know that as long as I seek You above all else, I have all that I will ever need. I pray that as I let go of the distractions of the world, and I fix my eyes on You, that You would help me to revel in the sweet, simple things of life that are freely given to me by Your kindness and grace. Thank You for the freedom of simplicity that is found when I am obedient to You. Amen.