Summary: Living in the reality of the cross, of God’s love and forgiveness enables us to let go of the baubles and bangles of life and live simply.
1 Timothy 6:6-16 “How to Simplify Your Life”
Arizona takes a little getting used to. I don’t mean the struggle to acclimate to pleasant, bugless evenings spent around the pool, or not shoveling twenty inches of snow in January. I’m not even thinking about adjusting to the possible presence of critters, or the summer’s triple-digit temps. What I think really takes getting used to, and something that I continue to struggle with, is the fact that there are no basements—there’s no place to store stuff. Faye and I did a major simplification project, and threw out a ton of stuff when we moved to Arizona, but it wasn’t half of what we needed to do. We need to do more, and we can do more, because we have realized that we don’t miss any of the stuff that we left behind.
Moves are one of the Holy Spirit’s tools to help realized how cluttered and crowded our lives have become. Sometimes the Spirit also uses our credit card statements, Day Planners packed from morning to night with appointments, or even a trip to the doctor to tell us that we need to simplify our lives.
When Paul writes to Timothy, he mentions that godliness with contentment is a good thing. Paul is about the only person I know that ever lists contentment with godliness and a righteous life. His words cause me to wonder what discontent in my life and in yours drives us to such clutter and crowdedness. Why can’t we be satisfied with food, clothing, shelter and family?
I AM SPECIAL
Throughout the history of humankind, individuals have used baubles and bangles to convince themselves and others that they are important and special. The numbers of sheep, goats or cattle were perhaps the earliest symbols of wealth, importance, and being special. Necklaces and rings rose to early prominence and have been in vogue, especially among women, ever since. For men it was the size of his horse and the build of his chariot that proclaimed in uniqueness.
We have not come very far from the practices of our ancestors. Diamonds and pearls can make us feel good and also enable us to be the envy of others. Name brand clothes from Armani to Hilfiger to Banana Republic not only keep us from getting sunburned in various places, but they also make us look cool—special. We can extol the engineering intricacies and road handling qualities of Mercedes, BMW, Porsche, or even a Mazda RX-8, but we know that we have really arrived when we arrive in a Rolls Royce as opposed to a Yugo. And who can possibly be technologically savvy without an Xbox, Blackberry, Nano, and the latest in Bluetooth technology. All of these necessities help us feel important, special, extraordinary—someone who is special.
It is important to ask ourselves, though, if these items actually accomplish the purpose for which we purchase them. Certainly, they can make us feel good and special. They may also make people think that we are important, and some might even envy us. But, if the truth be told, they cannot add to our value or worth—especially for the Christian.
Our worth comes to us from the cross of Jesus Christ, when it is written “God so loved you and me that God gave his only Son. Our worth comes to us from our Baptism where God touched our lives, made us God’s children, filled us with the Holy Spirit, and called us to be his disciples and servants. Nothing can add to our worth.
None of the baubles and bangles that I’ve mentioned are bad in and of themselves. They become evil when we they become our gods, or if we use them to give us something they cannot provide. Having them does not make us content.
Christians do need things in order to be special, or content. Our contentment comes from God’s grace in our lives. We are able to simplify, because of our faith that God does love us, and there is nothing in the entire universe that is able to separate us from that love.
I AM SECURE
Faye and I love to travel. When we do travel, though, we tend to over pack. I take too many clothes, packing at least one outfit for every conceivable situation. I want to make sure that I’m prepared. I must confess that I’m a little edgy and not really content if I have to leave something behind.
A lot of us go through life accumulating a lot of things because they make us secure. More money—IRA’s, mutual funds, growth stocks, real estate—will enable us to whether any storm. At least we hope they will. More clothes will assure that we will never look shoddy. More tools we enable us to meet any emergency. (I still have a brake wrench for a 1969 Ford Falcon—just in case I might need it.)