Lately, I’ve been reading through Psalms and Proverbs for my regular Bible devotions. And I came across this Bible verse:
Such is the fate of all who are greedy for money; it robs them of life.Proverbs 1:19 (New Living Translation)
I was immediately struck by this verse, since as a Christian minimalist I strive to be intentional with my use of God-given resources and how I think about money in my own life. I decided to look up the verse in a different translation– and I was even more struck by The Message paraphrase version:
When you grab all you can get, that’s what happens; the more you get, the less you are.Proverbs 1:19 (The Message)
Wow. Being greedy robs us of life. When we grab for everything, as we get more we actually become less.
These are powerful words from Scripture. We tend to think that the more we have– more money, more material possessions, more accomplishments, more power– we will be even better. But according to Scripture, when we center our lives around getting more, we actually become less of ourselves.
The more we own and the more we work to accumulate more and more money, we become less of ourselves. It robs us of life. We think that having more will make us more. But instead, more makes us less. We lose pieces of who we are. We lose our lives. We lose ourselves.
Here are three major ways we lose ourselves when we focus on getting more:
We lose our time and energy.
We have all seen this happen to ourselves and others– when we are so focused on getting more of something, we lose time and energy that we could be using to focus on the aspects of life that matter most.
A typical example is when someone works more and more hours at work in order to gain more money, recognition, title, etc. and therefore has too little energy or time for loved ones. We see this portrayed in movies and TV shows a lot, and there’s a reason for it– it hits us close to home, literally
We lose our God-given resources.
When we focus on getting more (more stuff, more status, etc.), it usually means that we must spend more and more money. This means that at best we are using our God-given resources in ways that may not be how God would want us to; at worst, we are going into debt and limiting how we can serve God in the future.
In addition, this means that when we continue to accumulate more, we are also less able to be generous and help those who have less than we do. Getting more and more for ourselves mean that others continue to go without.
We lose our true identity.
When we are so focused on getting more, we are unable to focus on who God calls us to be: children of God who love and serve God and others. Using our spiritual gifts and skills to gain more is not why the Spirit has gifted us– we are called to use our gifts to build up God’s kingdom here on earth.
In our quest for more, it is easy to lose sight of our true identity. Our possessions, job title, and salary do not define us. We are beloved children of God, period, end of story.
Christian minimalism is a Jesus-oriented focus on the aspects of life that matter most, and intentionally removing everything else. Christian minimalism is the opposite of the person described in Proverbs 1:19– it is living in such a way that gets us off the “more and more treadmill” and back on solid ground with Jesus.
Jesus tells us:
And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?Matthew 16:26 (New Living Translation)
In our process of always striving for more, we are losing ourselves. We are gaining the world but losing our souls. Jesus calls us to have soul— to reject the idea that more is better and instead live a life of enough.
How is God calling YOU to “have soul” and break the vicious cycle of always accumulating more?