We live in a “get more” world. Have you noticed? Of course you have! We are surrounded by it ! Get more money, get more power, get more recognition, get more STUFF!! In just the relatively short span of a lifetime, consisting of several decades, our world has become obsessed with this”get more” lifestyle.
On average the “debt to income ratio” has completely exploded, and the idea that having more means greater happiness and this idea has permeated our society. But an interesting study was done by a leading university examining the idea of “income” and “happiness. Now everyone says they want happiness and somewhere along the line we got the idea that having more meant being more. We were better, happier, more desireable and worthy as human beings, if we were surrounded by goods.
Strangely enough this is not what the in depth study showed. Once our needs are met for food, shelter, clothing and transportation there is NO increase in happiness in proportion to the amount of money we have or the amount of things we have acquired. None! This study showed conclusively that more money did not equal more happiness. We are happiest when are needs are met but nothing was added to our happiness by having more money or more stuff! This was quite a revalation! Enough was enough!
A new movement of simplicity has emerged in recent years called minimalism. This lifestyle embraces the idea of living with fewer material possessions and removing the excess of things from our lives. Thoe who have adopted the minamalist lifestye ususall have attributed it to the environment and saving the planet. They say they have less stress, more time and actually enjoy what they have much more. They appreciate what things they have carefully chosen to surround themselves with.
Some have even used the idea of Christianity as permission to persue greater wealth and the “prosperity gospel” has become quite popular. Didn’t Jesus say I want to Give you an abundant life? Doesn’t he want us to prosper and be wealthy.
Yes I believe God desires to give us an abundant life and bless us generously!! Does that mean more money and stuff? I don’t think so. Yes, of course God has blessed some with great financial success and His Will is that it support those who are less fortunate and to spread the good news of the gospel throughout the earth. But the greater and more perfect abundance we should seek is of a very different kind.
Do we ask for an abundance of virtue? An abundance of faith, hope and charity? How about patience and generosity? Or Kindness and compassion! This is the “stuff” God wants to bless us with abundantly even more than material good.s. These things bring us peace, happiness and joy. In the end, do youreally think more happiness comes from a trip to Paris or watching your granddaughter eat an ice cream cone with delight? Or is it better to have an expensive car in the garage when it gives you sleepless nights worrying over making the payments? Jesus wants us to live a life of simplicity and peace. I belive this means examining our lifestyle and asking ourselves…why?
Why do I seek to acquire more? What is the purpose?
I have a dear friend who was blessed with abundance and she and her husband asked themselves “do we need a house this big?” Can we live with less?” They sincerly examined their lifestyle and considered selling and moving to a smaller house. They prayed and sought Gods wisdom on this decision and decided to stay where they were but to use their space in a way that glorified God. Every week there are prayer groups, youth groups, pot lucks with discussions of scripture or a video that portrays the life of a saint or blessed. They use their home to bless their large family but also to bless the community of believers in their parish. What a wonderful example of the right use of the abundance God has entrusted to them.
We all know we may be facing difficult times. We are not to abandone hope or have anxiety over any trials that may come our way. We must trust in God’s provision and seek His will in ALL our ways. This includes examining our averice and how well we practice stewardship over our time, money and possessions. God longs to bless us with peace and a sense of His holy presence every day of our lives. Let us cooperate with this goal and seek Him above all else.
Embrace and celebrate a simple life and watch how God embraces your home, family and loved ones with joy and peace. I can tell you from my own experience, never have a enjoyed a greater happiness than sitting in my friends home with other like minded Christians enjoying a meal and taling about our daily walk with God!
Until next time,
Debbie Byrd Smith