We taught our children the sign for that word when they were babies. That, and other signs like please, thank you, and water. But the sign for “more” was far and away the one most liberally used.
There one of them would be, in a high chair, being fed one spoonful at a time. And as soon as the spoon would hit their lips, they would already be jabbing the ends of their fingers together quickly, frenetically signing, “More! More! More” even as they were still swallowing that initial mouthful.
And so it goes as we grow. That word – more – still so pervasive in our thoughts. Except these days, our appetites have changed. No longer do we desire applesauce; instead, we have a seemingly insatiable craving for more of other things. More money. More prominence. More options. More service. More, more, more. Like children in a highchair unable to appreciate what we have, we are waving our hands demanding increase. Always more.
Against that comes a biblical call to a different kind of life. To a life focused singularly on the kingdom of God. To an undivided heart that has a desire to follow Jesus far and above everything else. In this, the Bible is calling us to live in a much more simple fashion. And though that simplicity has many different applications, one of the most important is the way in which we view money.
Money, according to Jesus, is the chief competitor for our attention and our affection:
“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” (Matt. 6:24).
Here again, inside of this warning about the dangers of money, we find yet another call to simplicity. We cannot be divided. There can be only one master. Simple.
Now if you feel the tug in your heart and know what it means to be divided internally, then this call to simplicity is appealing. It would be great not to have an undivided and fractured focus, and therefore, to be content with what God has seen fit to give you. To simply live and work and do good for the sake of the kingdom, and to be joyful doing it without craving more. That’s very appealing… but how do we get there? Well, the Bible gives us a truth to help us move into this kind of simplicity, though it might not be the truth we would expect:
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,
“Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you” (Heb. 13:5).
The first part of the verse presents this simple, content, and focused kind of life. And once again, we see that money is the main obstacle to living this way. The second part of the verse is what we must believe in order to keep our lives free from the love of money and to live in a state of contentment. So if we believe in the constant presence of God then at least one of the results will be this kind of simple, content life.
That is a little surprising, isn’t it? I mean, we might choose any number of other truths that we think will drive us to simplicity and contentment:
- That you will never have enough.
- That money and materialism is wasted energy because you can’t take it with you.
- That simplicity and contentment is the key to mental health.
And so on. Now all those things might be true, but specifically here, in Hebrews 13, the key theological truth that propels us to a life of contentment is the presence of God. So what is it about the fact that God will never leave us nor forsake us that makes us content people?
It is the fact that when we embrace the truth of God’s presence; when His presence is not merely an intellectual acknowledgment but something real and affecting to us; we see everything else in light of the great value, beauty, and worth of God. Having God doesn’t mean we can settle for not having everything else; having God means we have everything already.
This is how we grow in simplicity – it’s not just by setting a budget or having a garage sale (though those are good and fine things to do) – it’s by meditating on all we have in God through Jesus Christ. This is when, in the midst of a world craving more, we will finally be able to push away from the table and say, “I’m already full.”