Table-ology of simplicity
A Scripture study from Caring, part seven of seven.
Annie Johnson Flint penned the words, “When we reach the end of our hoarded resources, our Father’s full giving has only begun.”
Why do we sometimes wait until we have exhausted our own hoarded resources before we rely on God’s resources? It’s a frustrating conundrum to find oneself in. Simplifying is easier some days than others. As we simplify and release our way to God’s grace, and exchange earthly treasures for treasures sanctified by God, we find our personal value and our hoarded resources to have less sway over us and God’s love and power to have the greater influence.
“Fear not that thy need shall exceed his provision,
Our God ever yearns his resources to share.”
– Annie Johnson Flint
God wants us to live simple lives, free of clutter—both inwardly and outwardly. To clutter is “to fill or cover with scattered or disordered things that impede movement or reduce effectiveness.” Clutter comes in different forms. There is the physical clutter we covet, which complicates life and brings fleeting happiness. There is also unhealthy, emotional clutter we cling to, such as need for status, success and popularity.
Both inward and outward clutter can get in the way of God’s love, which is a treasure our souls unequivocally depend upon. Anything we hoard that has the potential to impede life and rob us of all God has to offer can be considered clutter. We can even have secret clutter—that stuff we hide in drawers and hearts so that our company won’t notice it. After a while, we forget it’s even there.
Until we declutter and unpack the junk of our souls, the paring down of our personal resources will be a wasted process. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matt. 6:21).
If our souls are not well with God, we will always find value elsewhere. Our closets will always be filled with unnecessary “stuff,” and our souls will always be weighed down with useless rubbish.
If our souls are not well, our hoarded resources will always prevail because we are investing in self rather than our relationship with God. God created us so that our ultimate desire is for his love to be our heart’s greatest treasure—where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal (Matt. 6:20b NLT)—where we are not buried alive by useless clutter and self-aggrandizement.
In learning to live within, we learn to live without.
The early believers understood the table-ology of simplicity—the process of letting go of “stuff” and letting God use all they had for his glory, for their abundance and for the sake of others.
They sold whatever they owned and pooled their resources so that each person’s need was met (Acts 2:45 MSG).
In “Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth,” Richard Foster writers, “The Christian discipline of simplicity is an inward reality that results in an outward lifestyle. Both the inward and the outward aspects of simplicity are essential. The early Church understood and practiced both aspects of simplicity. Everyone was growing in their inward journeys of faith, outwardly expressing it through love for their neighbors. As a result, everyone lived in gratitude and celebration.”
This Thanksgiving, as you consider all the provisions God has blessed you with, inwardly and outwardly, consider how you can use your resources to bless others around you. Go through that closet, garage or drawer and pare down those items you no longer need or use. Take a spiritual inventory and see if there is any clutter getting in the way of your relationship with God.
As you pare down inward and outward clutter, ask God to replace those spaces with his infinite riches.
“His love has no limits, his grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men (and women);
For out of his infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.”
– Annie Johnson Flint
Acts 2: 42-47
God, with hearts of gratitude, we thank you for being our provider and for giving us all that we need. Forgive us for the times we live in excess. Forgive us for the opportunities we pass up to help another in need because of our own selfish desires. Through your Spirit, would you help us to declutter and simplify, allowing us to pay better attention to you and those around us? Would you please soften our hearts and encourage us to be generous with our resources, blessing our neighbors in need and believing that you will supply all our needs according to the riches of your glory in Christ Jesus? Open our hearts and minds to recognize the need for simplicity and then allow us to experience the freedom that it brings. We pray this in the name of Jesus! Amen.
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- Want the full study now? Get inside the Caring Magazine Scripture Study Collection and find a suite of free, downloadable Bible studies to guide you through topics from New Beginnings Through Forgiveness, to Understanding our Imago Dei or Life Hacks From David.
- Find recommended resources for understanding, developing and practicing a life of simplicity in the Table-ology Further Reading book list here.
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