No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money (Luke 16:13).
But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.” (Acts 8:20-23).
And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, nor shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the Lord your God. (Lev 23:22).
No matter how many boats you have, you can’t buy peace. You can buy a bigger house, but it won’t buy God.
Economists are absolutely horrified with the concept of simplicity. The current economy relies on people buying things they don’t need. Desire to consume is the driver of the financial success of the nation.
Our nation is a monster with a hole in its stomach, ever devouring more in a desperate bid to relieve our hunger. But the more we consume, the larger the hole gets and the less we are satisfied by what we consume.
We spend everything we have to get everything we want. And when we don’t have enough to buy everything we want, we borrow money to buy it.
Eventually, the nation’s credit runs out. We hit a debt ceiling—not just for the government, but for the whole people. The economy goes into recession.
Because our whole nation is centered on consuming everything we can get our hands on. And when we can’t get our hands on enough, the whole system crashes.
Does this sound sustainable to you?
More than that, does this sound Godly to you?
It is very easy to excuse your behavior. “Well, I’m not rich, so I can’t be buying too many things I don’t need. After all, I’m a college student! I definitely don’t have any money to spare!”
“Sent from my iPhone 6 Plus.”
It doesn’t matter how much you make. Whether you live on $2 per day or $2,000 per day, you can spend money on something you don’t need.
Do you really need to upgrade your phone every year?
Do you really need to eat out every day?
Do you really need to get those new shoes?
Don’t get me wrong: it’s not that buying nice things is wrong. It’s okay. It’s even, dare I say, good!
Sometimes, yes, you do need to get a new phone. Sometimes, yes, you do need new shoes.
And more than need, sometimes it’s just a nice break to eat out at a nice restaurant. It’s good to do something to please yourself now and then.
The problem is that, in our society, it’s not “now and then.” Not really.
It’s “now and then and also then and again and then twice then.”
“Go ahead. You deserve it. Treat yourself.”
How many commercials have told you that? Pretty much every single one.
And you’re hearing that thousands of times each day. And you’re seeing it thousands of times each day.
But there is much more to life than satisfying every desire you might have.
And what’s more, teaching yourself to not satisfy every desire you have is a magnificent tool to help you grow.
And even more than that, not satisfying every desire you have frees up resources to serve God’s Kingdom and other people!
And most of all, not satisfying every desire you have shows that neither you nor money are your god, but only God is your God.
When you don’t buy that soda, you not only discipline your body and your mind (because your mind wants it just as much as the rest of you), but you also don’t spend some money. And that money is then available to give to the poor.
When you don’t buy that shirt, you don’t just discipline yourself by not looking exactly how you might want, but you also free up money you can give to support missions.
Even in the Old Testament, God commanded his people not to take everything they could get their hands on. As the Leviticus quote says above, God commanded his people to leave the edges of the field alone. Whatever was dropped in the field while harvesting was left there so those who cannot afford a field can eat.
It has always been God’s will that his people not consume everything they can, but would intentionally leave some for those in need.
God made his people leave room to provide for the ministry of his kingdom: the professional clergy, the poor and others with no means of supporting themselves.
You are, after all, called to be a living sacrifice.
You shouldn’t feel bad for having nice things. But neither should you pursue having nice things to the detriment of God’s purposes.
Living a simple life is a great gift! It’s a joyful life, one where you are not mastered by your desires! It’s a life where God meets your needs and those of the people around you! What a wonderful life!