A dear Christian friend has 6 artificial joints; 4 in her left hand at the knuckles and in both knees because of severe arthritis and joint deterioration. Recently she wrote saying, “When my husband retired we lived for 10 months with friends of ours in a 2 bedroom, 1 bath house while he helped them build their new home. During those months I found I needed very little of my own stuff to be content and happy. In fact I was probably happier without all the things we own.
Then it was time to move our things out of storage and into the rent house and finally into our own new house. I became ill shortly after we moved into our new home and still have not unpacked all the boxes we have in the garage. Now that my husband and I have lived here 16 years we are beginning to discuss getting rid of most of what we own so it won’t be such a problem when we have to downsize.
What a realization of how much money we have wasted in things we thought we needed or wanted. It makes us realize how we have not been the best stewards we should have been with the Lord’s money. May the Lord forgive us for our selfishness and covetousness.”
IF WE OWN LESS, THAT CAN BE BECAUSE WE ARE NOT COVETOUS.
Over the years I have had numerous opportunities to deal with people who either had a close call with death or knew their days were numbered because of a terminal illness. Almost to a person, each one wanted to get rid of material possessions before they passed from this life. Some thought of sharing with the poor or passing on memorabilia to relatives. Women generally wanted to empty personal closet space and drawers or to “clean house.”
Though frail in body, yet still of a sound mind, they determined to give away everything except what they actually needed to function. That seemed to make a difference to their outlook and to their peace of mind—as though they somehow could make peace with God before they passed from this life into eternity.
Some will say all this talk of owning less sounds a bit like the Minimalist revolution or perhaps the New Age cult. Who are these people and how close are they to Christian thinking? Have we experienced their music or their artwork? These philosophers say of their own music:
Born from an aesthetic that aims to induce a sense of inner calm, new age music emerged from the meditational and holistic fields. Generally, these are harmonious and non-threatening albums that are allied with new age philosophies encouraging spiritual transcendence and physical healing. Some of these albums are artistically satisfying as well as therapeutic.
New Age artist include Yanni, Enya, Jim Brickman, John Tesh and others who brought the refreshing, clear notes of real music many longed for after several decades of jazz, hard rock and the screamers of heavy metal groups.
But how does the New Age philosophy or Minimalism compare with a genuine desire follow the Lord and rid ourselves of covetousness as taught in the Holy Scriptures? If you have never studied this topic, you might like to try searching a group of lessons listed below. You will see there is no comparison between God’s direction for our lives and modern man’s philosophies. Happy searching!
COVETOUSNESS: Lesson—Eve Coveted the Forbidden Fruit
COVETOUSNESS: Lesson 2—Lot Covets the Plain of Jordan
COVETOUSNESS: Lesson 4—Esau Coveted Food
COVETOUSNESS: Lesson 5—Pharaoh and the Egyptians
Covetousness Lesson 11: Eli and Samuel’s Sons
LESSON 12: Saul Spared Agag and the Booty
Covetousness Lesson 13: David Covets Bathsheba
Covetousness Lesson 14: King Solomon
The Result of Absalom’s Covetousness
A different type of lesson about covetousness is here: Ironies of our Culture
4 thoughts on “BE NOT WEARY IN WELL DOING: The Simple Life”
We have too much stuff – but there are also 7 of us and we’ve moved many times. Leaving things behind you learn what you need and what you can live without. I’m slowly getting rid of the things I know I can live without. The hardest thing is BOOKS! Paper and books is by far my worst compulsion. I don’t borrow books, I own them – good ones become FRIENDS. I have only ever thrown away one Bible – because a dog tore it up so that it was not readable, and that broke my heart! As to covetousness – I don’t think we always realize that what we are doing is covetous. I always think when I’m reading 1 Cor 5 how easily we would “withdraw” from one who is blatantly sexually immoral, a nasty drunk, or a brawling, fighting man – yet the idolater, covetous, and extortioner seem so unlikely or hard to recognize in ones life. Why is that? Because they are more personal – more easily hidden even when one is deeply entrenched? Maybe easier to hide because we don’t have the relationships that we should? As your lessons point out – covetous is something that most people have done – wanting what really is not ours. Just because you didn’t take it away from someone else, you may have taken something away from God by putting your focus where it ought not be. We must be mindful of how we walk.
When we first came to India, we brought what we absolutely had to have for the five of us in two suitcases. We stored our “things” in an unused garage at my Daddy and Mother’s farm. My mother, being the organizer she always was, decided to compact everything. What she didn’t know was that I am the “compactor” in our house, so all she succeeded in doing was ruining my organization. Then she thought to herself, “Beth, all this stuff you are keeping is causing you to sin; you need to just get rid of it.”
So… that justified her in giving away some of my most prized keepsakes–among other things the readers I had when I was in 3rd grade. One such set was the IF I WERE GOING Series with the beautiful watercolor illustrations. About two years later we had to move back to the States and do local work for a time and so we took a small U-haul to get what we needed for our new situation. I did not notice that the books were gone until I started to put everything out where it could be used. (Our eldest was in high school and our 2nd and 3rd children were just beginning school by then.)
When I discovered the loss and asked about it, there was no reason to get mad; I knew that would not help, but I was heartbroken. A few years later, when my mother visited, she took one look at my cedar chest and saw all the cloth I planned to use for making our clothing (I made most everything we wore back then.) and again said, “Why, Beth, this is a sin.”
I thought she did not understand my need. I made my dresses, even shirts, pants and suits for my husband when we were too poor to buy them ready-made. I made everything for our kids unless I was too busy teaching school to find the time, but then there were summers.. ah, yes, the summers. Thinking back over it all now, my cedar chest was a sign of my covetousness, but at the time I viewed it as my frugality. It was frugal for me to sew, but it was also a temptation for me to buy a lot of cloth I did not need.
Covetousness is not only wanting what belongs to another, it also has to do with loving the world and the things of the world–gathering into barns and saying “Soul take thine ease…”
As always, thanks so much for your input. We learn from each other.
I am too practical to keep clutter. My test is if I have not used it in the previous six months, I do not need it. Donation time! Keeps life clutter free for me.
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We may have had the same Home Economics teachers in our high school days. Mine told me to give away any clothing we had not worn in a year, because sizes and styles change and nobody wanted to be out of style in those days.