Summary: In our Scripture today, Jesus is confronting the world’s conventional wisdom about wealth and materialism which says, “More is better.” Jesus says that for abundant life, less is more.
Power of Simplicity
Matthew 10:9-11, 42
Shirley Fields writes, “12 years ago my husband and I were still spending most of our time running a business we had created. Financially everything was great. The store we owned and operated was in a wonderful location, and had the extra large office which meant that our children could always be there with us. To all of us, our store was like a home away from home, and the only down side was that we were spending so much time there that we never had any time or energy left for our real home or anything other than the business. As the years went by, we began to realize that we never were going to have that time as long as we had the store. Still, letting go it was almost unthinkable because we had worked so hard to get to where we were.
But life doesn’t stand still. One day we received a certified letter notifying us that the shopping center we were in had sold and the new owner intended to completely renovate all the stores….It was now early summer and our busiest time of year, and the only time we could do the renovation work was nights and weekends. We worked, like everyone else, all through the summer months. By September, most of the stores were finally back to normal. Strangely, the couple who rented the store next to us finished the same day we did, and we spent over an hour that Thursday afternoon commiserating with each other about what a terribly difficult time the last several months had been, and about how we yearned to be able to spend more time at home and have a life again outside of our workplace. I especially remember the woman’s enthusiasm and determination that this very day would be their first step towards a less harried life… they would close their store early, pick up their children at school, and have a relaxed family evening for the first time in months. That night as I was preparing our dinner with the television news on in the background, I was stunned to hear that this couple had been involved in a horrible accident less than an hour after we had talked. The woman was killed immediately and the man was critically injured. All I could think about was that just a few hours earlier I had been listening to this woman’s plans for a future that now would never happen for them. For us, the accident was a sad reminder that sometimes there is no tomorrow and became the impetus over the next year to sell off the last of our merchandise and close our store. Everyone who knew us thought we had lost our minds. We paid off our mortgage and car loans and pared down our expenses as much as we could. And then she writes, “We have no regrets. A few months after we closed the store, we started working from home, and that work has grown to provide us with a comfortable income. Our life has regained its balance, and our time is our own again. I only wish our friends could have lived to have the same opportunity.”
That is Jesus’ hope for us as well. In our Scripture today, Jesus is confronting the world’s conventional wisdom about wealth and materialism which says, “More is better.” Jesus says that for abundant life, less is more. The accumulation of things creates complexity in our lives, and that can make it hard for us to be totally free to follow Jesus and serve sacrificially. For Jesus says, “Whoever serves me must follow me and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.” John 12:26 We may think we’re doing pretty well on being able to go anywhere Jesus wants us to go but too often the accumulation of things can be an anchor around our feet which keeps us from doing what Jesus wants us to do.
Jesus wants us to experience the power of simplicity. Simplicity is the intentional act of right-sizing our lifestyles as we commit ourselves to the mission of Jesus and the needs of the world. You can’t separate faith from works – that includes how we handle our money. Jesus is saying if you’re really going to be my disciples, you have to align your attitudes about money with the Word of God. The problem is that when it comes to money and things, all of us have attachments. An attachment is where the majority of your time, your money and your focus is spent. What are the attachments that you have in your life right now? Where is your time, your money and your attention going? If you wake up in the middle of the night worrying, it’s an attachment. When you spend time away from family, friends and God to gain, power, prestige or a larger house, nicer car or designer clothes, it’s an attachment. Here’s the thing, we need to watch out for attachments. When it comes to email, we have to be careful in opening certain attachments or we will download a virus. The same is true of what you think or worry about in life because they can dominate us and divert our lives from our purpose and God’s work.