Less is More
Most people don’t know it, but the more material objects a person obtains, the more that person becomes enslaved. In our society today we are taught to have more of everything, but the unintended consequences is slavery to a system that cannot bring true happiness. In fact, the more one gathers of material items the more stress and unrest a person will feel in life. Most people living in the modern world are driven on a daily basis with the motivation to attain and consume more. Think about the debts most people are forced to face in order to maintain this lifestyle: steep mortgage payments, excessive car payments, ridiculous student loans, outrageous cellphone bills, eye-watering health insurance bills, and on and on… In fact, these are just a few of the basic things. When you factor in the luxury and non-essential items it boggles the mind about how much we a taught to consume. Here is an interesting stat: children in the U.S. make up 3.1% of the world’s kid population, but U.S. families buy more than 40% of the toys purchased globally. Moreover, in the last 30-years American households have dedicated near to half their annual expenditures to non-necessities. The fact is, we consume to make ourselves feel better, but in reality we only produce more stress and anxiety. With the ease of one-click shopping, wholesale stores and consumer goods becoming cheaper and cheaper we have created a debt society to feed our materialism. This is a culture of slavery to an ideal that will not bring happiness. The more we desire material things the more we diminish God. Jesus said in Matthew 6:19-24
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. “The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”
This statement cannot be anymore clear. If a person devotes their life to wealth, then God will be forgotten. This is not an indictment against everyone who owns something, but it is a warning to remind ourselves of what we are actually living for. Jesus even recognizes that in life we need material things and states in Luke 12:30-31
“For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things. But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you.”
Jesus is reminding us that the Kingdom of God must come first in our lives, and once it does, God will add all the material needs. The real secret, is that, once you seek the kingdom of God you won’t desire the things of this world.
Less is More: The material objects we collect in life will one day no longer exist. That is an indisputable fact. Most people have so many non-essential items that they stuff their excess into garages, crawl spaces, attics and even paid storage facilities (FYI the storage facility business is a $24 billion dollar a year industry) to hold discarded items that are no longer used in daily life. This is how extreme our materialistic society has become -- a hoarding spirit. The owners of these discarded items trick themselves into thinking that these things have value, because they equate the hard work they have given in order to obtain the objects in the first place. Jesus articulates this perfectly in Luke 12:15-21
“Then He said to them, "Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions." And He told them a parable, saying, "The land of a rich man was very productive. And he began reasoning to himself, saying, 'What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?' Then he said, 'This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry."' But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?' So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God."
If a person takes the mindset that, one day, when I have enough, I will have time for God, they are as Jesus states -- a fool. Do not be caught in the trap our society lays. It is a counterculture ideal to turn your back on materialism, but there is freedom in less, because their will be more time for what is important -- God. This doesn’t mean it is wrong to have possessions, but it does mean you should examine your life and cut out the clutter. Here is a quote my Mother told me: Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without. Make it a practice to give away the stuff you don’t use and be a blessing to those in need. Consume less and save for what is important. Teach your children early on in life to focus on heavenly rewards rather than earthly pleasures. Seek first the kingdom of God and then all the other things will be added to you.
We learned the ideal of Less is More early on in life while traveling on the mission field, and even to this day we still live according to that belief. We own no home, no car, no items of value other than our cameras for the missions. Everything we need or want can fit into a bag that is 35 liters...and you know what? There is freedom in that! We own nothing, but in the same regard we are owned by nothing. Life takes on a different tone when you are free to accomplish the will of God. You too can have a free life. Clean out your closet, dump the clutter, give to the poor, and get ready for the Lord to do great things in your life.