In 1 Timothy 6: 6-12, Apostle Paul writes:
“But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”
In this pandemic, as our country’s death toll caused by the virus rises and death is approaching our home and community at any time, we have to ask ourselves this question: “What is essential and indispensable for life? On the opposite, what is not essential yet we have spent a lot of time, money and energy to pursue them?”
We fell into the abyss of modern life. Materialism, consumerism, and hedonism are the three pillars of modern life. They revolve around this core: “I enjoy, therefore I am.” And enjoyment is based on the feeling that I feel cool, so it also can be expressed as: “I feel, therefore I am.”
A more affluent life has become a century icon, ubiquitous advertising is the prophet of the masses, and the media and iPhones are the hotbeds for manufacturing. Like the Olympic slogan — more, faster, and better (consumer goods)- has become the “new god” or idol that people actually desire for.
Under the guidance of this “new god”, people’s natural desires are reshaped, and “artificial needs” are continuously increasingly produced, which are pressed into people’s mind through advertisements, mobile phones and media; the artificial desires become a longing that people can never satisfy, the more stuff they have, the poorer they feel, and emptiness has become synonymous with satisfaction.
The LORD declares: “‘Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.” (Ezekiel 16:49-50)
Jesus says: “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matthew 6:24) Paul reminds us that: “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” (1 Timothy 6:10)
All this shows that the biggest competitor with God is money or materialism. In your hearts, if money is king, it means money is your ultimate lord and refuge of help. To live a simple life is the only way to get rid of the greediness and bid farewell to materialism, consumerism and hedonism. The principle of pursuing a simple life is not of the outward, but of the heart; not of giving away, but of gaining. The question is what or who can satisfy the fundamental needs of my life? The answer is only God, or Christ Jesus.
I must be determined to obtain God, to obtain Christ Jesus. On the contrary, it is more accurate that I am obtained by Jesus. I want to obtain the abundant life that Jesus promises me. Jesus says blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. My mind and attitude must be the same as that of Christ Jesus. We are to seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness.
The ultimate prayer is that the will of God will be fulfilled; the ultimate purpose of reading the Bible is to allow the word of God becomes the lamp to my feet and the light for my path; the ultimate point of praise is from the heart, deep in love, singing Hallelujah with all creatures; The ultimate purpose of eating is to have today’s meal given by the Lord with gratitude; the ultimate purpose of work is not to do things for the Lord, but to satisfy the heart of the Lord; the ultimate point of walking and exercising, even if you walk by yourself, you must know that God walks with you. Faith, hope, love, peace, and joy are the ultimate pentaprism for living.
Faith is to firmly grasp the promise of the Lord when in doubt; Hope is to believe that the love of the Lord will never be separated from me at the time of despair; Love is to pray for the enemies/ adversaries while you are surrounded by them, only to bless and never curse; Peace is to put your heart and trust in Christ in the midst of suffering; Joy is to realize the Lord helps you with his smiling face when you are in need.
So from the inside and outside, our heart returns to simple, we are able to let go of many things, unnecessary and entangled stuff. First, we will refuse to buy the unnecessary things, never again, No matter how up-to-date and how innovative the advertisements say they are!
Secondly, do you have stuff that has not been used for years, i.e. more than 3 years? Please think about giving them away to the needy and to charities. Thirdly, learn to appreciate the nature and art works without having to possess them.
We have much more to let go. But the most important thing is to live in the abundant life that Lord Jesus gives us. A quote from the Pope John Paul XXIII gives us a good summary: “The older I become, the more clearly I realize that in thoughts, actions and speeches, simplicity is charming and solemn, I am eager to turn everything complicated into simple, and to use the most natural and straightforward ways to deal with all things.”
Let us pray:
Merciful O God our Savior and Healer, We need you and your compassion for the whole human family that is in turmoil and burdened with illness and with fear. Grant us your spirit of love and self-discipline so that we may come and work together to eliminate the coronavirus. Strengthen and encourage those in public health services and in medical profession, all who commit themselves to caring for the sick and their families. Inspire, give good insight and hope to the researchers focused on finding a vaccine; sustain all workers, business and families who suffer loss. Guide our leaders that they can speak the truth and do justice in humble heart. Grant all of us your healing, comfort and peace, daily.
In Jesus Christ’s name. Amen.
Our prayers are lifted for:
Mary Condon and Husband; Judy Davis; Dan (Jim’s nephew); Martha Glassy; Joan Hassell; Charles Harden; Betty Howell; Crystal (Nancy Jones’ daughter); Sheila Levine; Frannie and Flores family; Angela Rose; Jim Rathmell; Ann Smith; Grace & Rhodes family; Russell Scheibel; USAF and our Nation