10 Great Reasons to Live with Enough: A Book Excerpt
6. You'll be prepared for tough financial times. I'm writing this the day after the US stock market took another five hundred-point dive. Other markets around the world took similar hits. I don't know what your economy will be like when you read this, but I do know that world economies are going to ebb and flow. Natural disasters, war, poor leadership, and other economic factors are going to cause the values of our respective currencies to wax and wane. Interest rates are going to climb, gas prices will increase, the cost of goods and services will go up, and then—maybe—they'll come back down. You do not want to be in debt and have significant financial overhead when those difficult days come calling. The big house, the nice car, or the time-share in Aspen might become the albatross around your neck that wrecks your marriage or keeps you from being able to retire when you want to. But if you're living with enough, you're much more likely to have the financial means to navigate those difficult times.
7. You'll be better equipped to respond to need. Even though Israel was a homeless group of former slaves for over forty years, God still expected them to care for the poor and needy among them. He expects the same of us. But curiously and tragically, having wealth doesn't typically increase one's benevolence. Statistics still show that the most generous people among us are those who have less, not more. If you're waiting until you hit a certain level of income before you start giving or helping others, stop waiting. God wants you to enjoy the fruits and joys of helping others right now. He wants you to be like Joseph and the Egyptians when the seven-year famine hit. Not only will you have what you need, but you'll be in a position to help others as well.
8. Your life will be simpler. The Bible clearly affirms the value of simple living. As we've already seen, simplicity reduces stress and enhances relationships. It helps you focus on what matters and gives you the discernment to reject what doesn't. But the more complex your lifestyle becomes—specifically, the more material and financial overhead you have—the less simplicity you'll enjoy. Simplicity and stress have an inverse relationship: the more you have of the former, the less you'll have of the latter.
9. You'll have better intimacy with God. If living with enough breeds simplicity, and simplicity helps our relationships, then it stands to reason that living with enough will help our relationship with God as well. Actually, simplicity enhances spirituality; it creates an environment in which your relationship with God can thrive. That's why monks and others seeking to know more of God don't retreat to the Hamptons or Beverly Hills; they go to the desert. Riches and material things are spiritual distractions. They divert our attention not just from God but from spiritual matters entirely. Living with more sets your focus on earthly, material matters, and it's nearly impossible to grow spiritually when you've got your eyes on temporal things.
10. You'll have more joy. This is by far the best reason to embrace living with enough. Joy has nothing to do with circumstances, but it has everything to do with perspective. If riches brought joy (or even happiness), then those of us with more than enough would be the most joyous people on earth. If riches brought joy, then King Solomon (one of the wealthiest men in history) wouldn't have lamented in Ecclesiastes about the meaninglessness of his life. But the reality is that riches often sap the joy right out of us. They're a cheap substitute for the spiritual, soul-satisfying treasure of a life of intimacy with God. When Jesus promised to give us abundant life, he wasn't talking about wealth. If that were the case, he wouldn't have died for us; he could have just written each of us a check. Jesus' death shows us that what we need most is access to God, and that's something riches can never give us. Joy can't be bought, but it can be snuffed out. Joy thrives best in an environment of less, not more.
Moving Toward Enough
From Melissa: As a single mom, simplicity is key for me. The idea of "less is more" is my way of life. I only buy used cars, which keeps my budget manageable—NO CAR PAYMENTS! Also I recently did a complete overhaul of my housing and downsized dramatically. It has been such a huge relief and has helped me see how I can be more efficient when I go shopping and in how I organize my life. My budget is simple: rent, electricity, phone, car insurance, child care, gas, food—like I said, simple! Keeping it simple takes a lot of stress out of life for me. I am much better equipped to deal with life's curveballs. For me it is really about knowing that all I have comes from God, and taking care of what he has given me is really important. It is the least I can do.
For Further Reflection
1. Read Matthew 6:11 seven times. Each time you read it, emphasize and reflect on the significance of one word (GIVE us this day; Give US this day; Give us THIS day; etc.)
2. Read Philippians 4:11-12 and think about how much Paul's statement does or does not reflect how you feel.
3. Considering where you are in your life right now (marriage and/or family, career, housing, retirement plans, etc.), how close are you to being able to declare that you have enough?
© 2012 by Will Davis Jr.
Excerpt reprinted with permission from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. www.revellbooks.com
For more resources and conversation about the new book Enough, visit the Patheos Book Club here.