Cutting back as an act of faith - 30 January 2019

Hennie Symington

Jesus looked straight at him with love and said, “You need only one thing. Go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven; then come and follow me.” When the man heard this, gloom spread over his face, and he went away sad, because he was very rich.Mark 10:21-22

I know what it is to be in need and what it is to have more than enough. I have learnt this secret, so that anywhere, at any time, I am content, whether I am full or hungry, whether I have too much or too little. I have the strength to face all conditions by the power that Christ gives me.   Philippians 4:12-13

In a world where one percent of the world’s population consume 80 percent of the natural resources while the rest live way under the breadline, we need to take a serious look at our lifestyles.

If we really cared for the world God created we must set our minds on simplifying our lifestyle. This concern for living a life of simplicity is nothing new. In the Bible Jesus often expresses his concern for the poor and takes on the “haves” for their striving for more at the cost of the poor. However, choosing to live a life free of excess is not easy. The rich young man we read about in Mark has the option of choosing a life of simplicity and a more fulfilled life. Yet, he doesn’t see his way clear to doing this and walks off into the night. That was his choice.

We too have a choice. Breaking free from an over abundance of earthly goods and striving for a simpler lifestyle is not so much a financial as a spiritual decision which puts us in a completely different relationship with our neighbour as well as the world we live in. Of course it’s not easy to sacrifice any of the things that give us status and define our position in life. Perhaps one should start simply by cultivating contentment and avoiding the kind advertising which lures us into wanting bigger and better. We could feed our souls with simplicity and explore new ways of discovering spiritual depth and a more fulfilling lifestyle to help us on our way.

There are many ways of satisfying the longing to be someone and yearning to be loved and accepted. Cultivate new habits such as starting a hobby with your spouse or your children, growing roses or learning the names of every tree in your garden in reverence to the Creator. Or memorise verses from the Bible in stead of the latest stock market prices. However, if you decide to opt for a simpler lifestyle, do so in sensitivity towards your fellow human beings and devotion to God, not from a sense of guilt or to make yourself feel better about yourself.

Prayer: Lord, like the rich young man, it’s hard for me to let go. Open my soul to a life of giving rather than gathering. Amen

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