8/12/17

Less Is Best so God Can Bless

When mentioning to a friend my desire to cut back on my food intake and the things I own in order to allow the Lord to bless others through my life, she said, "Oh, you are a minimalist."


No, not really, although that's not necessarily a bad thing or un-Christian. But I am coming to the conclusionat least for my own lifethat less is best so God can bless.

Let me explain.

Minimalism is the perspective or philosophy that simplicity, even sparseness, in life is the best way to live. Minimalists rid themselves of unused and "unneeded" things. They prefer a simple, uncluttered environment. (Think: the exact opposite of hoarding!)

They tend not to stockpile things for the future, and some don't even save money. They want to rid themselves of everything they don't need immediately. Some do so in order to help others with true immediate needs.

The Christian minimalist desires to join this philosophy with biblical teachings, and to some extent, that's feasible. Some Christians do live in a way similar to minimalism, but others own things, save money and even accumulate wealth.

It's entirely a matter of conscience. We should let the Holy Spirit guide us concerning what we possess and save. And the Spirit should also direct our giving.

It's true that Jesus owned little in this world—not even a place to lay His head (Matthew 8:20), but you won't see Him commanding his disciples to follow His example in this. 

The Lord had followers like His friends Lazarus, Martha and Mary, and women including Mary Magdalene, Joanna and Susanna (John 12:1-5; Luke 8:1-3) who offered their own resources to support and care for the Lord! We also know Paul supported his own mission endeavors (1 Corinthians 9:1-27).

If Christian minimalism can help us worship the Lord in a meaningful way, this is good. If Christian minimalism can remind us to care for those who suffer or have needs, this is also good. But we can't use it as a yardstick for righteous behavior, because the scriptures only warn against greed and foolishness in regard to money and possessions—not possession of them (Luke 6:24; James 5:1-6; 1 Timothy 6:9).

The Bible encourages us to be generous, cheerful givers (2 Corinthians 9:6-7), no matter the amount of possessions and wealth we enjoy.

So why did I tell my friend, 
"less is best so God can bless"?

I had two things in mind.

1. I want to consume less so I can be healthy enough to minister to others for a long, long time.

I'm on a journey toward better health, and the Lord convicted me of my "disease of more." For years, I didn't just snack and eat, I inhaled great quantities of food.

That is changing. My Christian nutritionist finally got through to my heart. "How long do you want to continue ministering?" she asked.

And when I gave her a deer-in-headlights stare, she continued: "If you want to have a healthy body that will equip you to minister for a lifetime, you need to deal with your overeating."

My gluttony.

Lately, the Lord has been dealing with me severely about portion control. It's not just because there are "starving children in China," as my mom said when I didn't clean my plate as a kid—and that "clean plate" club is another concerning issue. 

I didn't even recognize anymore what a normal, healthy portion looked like. 

I'm learning to stop eating before I'm stuffed. Or even uncomfortable. 


I'm learning I can say, "That's enough." 

2. I've been accumulating much, much more than I'll ever need—and that needs to change.

I had a Costco mentality long before there was a Costco. It continually whispered, "more is better!"  
It's an easy mentality to develop in the United States where we have so much abundance.

I think I first noticed how crazy I've become about things when I looked at my collection of scissors. I had scissors for everything and in every room of the house. At one point, I counted 22 pair of scissors!

I felt the Lord prompting me, reminding me of an article I'd read about poor teachers who didn't have school supplies—paper, pens and pencils ... and scissors.

Over the weeks following that revelation, I looked in every cabinet and drawer in my house. 
  • Why did I need 33 vases
  • Why did I have drawers of jewelry
  • What possessed me to buy 42 pair of shoes
  • Why did I have 14 Bibles? 
Why was every space in my garage filled to overflowing? Was I in danger of resembling an episode of "Hoarders"?

So many questions.

Even if I could argue that all of these things weren't "wrong" to possess, how could I justify having so much when so many people struggle to get even one pair of shoes... or a single Bible?
I wept that day as I sensed the Spirit say, "Stop! You have enough."
I'm still thinking these things through, and that exercise is positive in itself. I'm deciding how to turn my revelations into positive action. It's not an easy process with years of accumulation, accompanied by memories associated with my "stuff." But I know the truth is "you can't take it with you." 

The only things that matter are the souls of people and the Word of God. And anything I can do to facilitate God using my life and resources to further those two priorities is a good thing. An excellent thing. 

I truly I want the Lord to bless others through my "bounty." And in that process, I want to have the opportunity to share how the Lord is the God of abundance, the ultimate Giver. 

I want to learn how to steward my abundance well. God may lead others in a different direction, but in my case, stewardship means sifting through my stuff and "distributing to the needs of the saints" (Romans 12:13a).

Truly, less (for me) is best so God can bless (others).

How about you? Have you discovered the importance—the joy—of converting your abundance into opportunities to bless others?


- Graphic adapted, courtesy of congerdesign at Pixabay.

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