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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Living Simply III: Money & Contentment

Thanks to everyone for the comments and emails on the LivingSimply: Time Management post. To those of you who think I took the easy road and copped out on that one, I’m sorry to have let you down. But at the moment, I need some help around here. I’m woman enough to admit it.

I have five small children. I homeschool. I help my husband run an international ministry. And so I have someone who helps me clean every other week. We share a lawn mowing service with our next door neighbors. And I have a babysitter who comes for several hours, once or twice per week, so I can grocery shop or go to the dentist without five small people in tow.

But I’ll be the first to concede – I know all of those things are luxuries. I'm not saying we're right or wrong. That's just how we're doing things right now.

Dan and I pray over this and daily, we beg the Lord for guidance. Because we know that our hearts are wicked and deceitful. We can’t simply “follow our hearts” on these matters or just do whatever feels right.

There's a name for that kind of stuff with low cost and little sacrifice. It's called cheap grace.

Besides, Proverbs 14:12 says “There is a way that seems right to a man. But in the end it leads to death.” And when I read those words, I know I'd rather not do it my way.

I'm not an authority on this subject and I'm not suggesting that I have this all figured out. I'm just a sinner, saved by grace, and I struggle with this stuff like everyone else. I can't tell you how to live simply.

But Jesus can.

The answers that we're all seeking are readily available. They're in the Word -- in black, white and sometimes in red. I could quote a myriad of verses to make my point here. And I started to. But you really shouldn't take my word for it.

The one thing Dan and I can offer is this: some unique perspective. We've been privileged to spend a good bit of time on the other side of the world. We’ve seen it and smelled it and shared meals in people's homes. Through our ministry, we interact with our friends in Africa everyday. We know how the third world lives and the struggles they face each day.

Dan in Uganda, May 2011

And I can attest to this – for most of the western world, even our simplicity is pretty indulgent. We're far wealthier than most of us realize. Or even want to realize.

Based on what I've seen, heard and experienced from our brothers and sisters across the ocean, I know this is true -- we'd all do well to simply be content with what we have. Or better yet, be content with less and give away more.

In 1648, Jeremiah Burroughs wrote this "The art of contentment is not to add to our circumstances but to subtract from our desires." And 363 years later, human nature hasn't changed a bit.

True contentment is not getting what you what. It's wanting what you have. Stuff will never fulfill you or make you happy. But Jesus will.

Live simply by chasing after Him instead.


Susan said...

I wouldn't feel at all guilty getting help with some things so you can be freed up in other areas!You're doing great!

The Fruitful Family said...

Yup and amen!

LauraC said...

I waited rather impatiently for this post, checking a couple times a day (silly me). Now I get to reread, digest and think on this. THANK YOU! Still thinking about your last one too . . .

Jen said...

My sister has a daughter from Africa and I've spent a good chunk of my adult life doing mission work overseas and I totally agree...we'd all do well to simply be content with what we have. It can be really difficult so thank you for the reminder!

KellyClark said...

I really love you and your family. I recently made the leap to start our adoption in Ethiopia. You were a major part in getting us to this point. I say, whatever makes your life work, the better. You never know the impact you have on others.

Anonymous said...

Proverbs 31:15 She gets up while it is still dark, she provides food for her family and portions for her SERVANT GIRLS.
The wife in Proverbs 31 has help. After all that you do you are not eating the bread of idleness. {Prov. 31:27}
The help is a luxury. But living simply is about utilizing the time you would have spent mowing the lawn to advance God's Kingdom! Something tells me you are not wasting the time you are gaining! ;)

Shannon Evans said...

I love the way you guys continually bring the details of your life before the Lord. Way to set a high standard for us (slightly!) younger families!

Sally said...

I feel it's obvious that God has allowed you the financial means to have help - so you can do what He has called you to do! I can only think of all the children in Africa that would suffer if you had to spend your time cleaning the house or mowing the lawn instead of doing His work.

Julie said...

Great post! Have you thought that your "luxury" may be God's way of providing for another family? I cleaned someone's home for a couple of years. It was a tremendous blessing to our family for that particular season.