Living Simply, Loving FullyGod, Devotional , Theology
Contributed by: Compassion Canada
6 Day Devotional
It’s easy to get bogged down by distractions that take our attention away from what really matters. But as Christ-followers, we’re called to live quiet lives centered in love for God and our neighbours. This six-day plan includes a Daily Challenge to focus our hearts and minds to live simply and love fully in a world filled with distractions.
Challenge #1: Consume compassionately.
We live in a time of Amazon Prime and one-click purchases. Because everything we could ever want is at our fingertips, it’s so easy to fall into the lie that our wants are actually our needs. It’s even easier to make quick and mindless purchases when we see the word “sale” or “clearance” flash before our eyes. Who wants to miss out on a great deal?
But the truth is, our spending and buying habits have more impact than we know. Sometimes, we can get into habits of buying more and more to band-aid something we are trying not to feel. Other times, we forget the implications of our purchases. We forget to ask ourselves who is being impacted by what we buy. How soon will it go to waste? Is this purchase practicing good stewardship?
The world’s population throws out over 2 billion tonnes of household waste a year. That is equivalent to more than 60 tonnes of waste every second! What does this say about our consumption habits?
In Hebrews 13:5, our call to simple living as Christ-followers is confirmed as the author compels us to keep from the love of money and be content with what we’re given.
As a way of challenging your consumption habits, try asking yourself these three questions when thinking about buying a new item:
- Is this something I need to purchase?
- Can I buy it second-hand?
- Can I find an ethical source?
- Is this something I can borrow from someone else?
As we get into a rhythm of asking ourselves these questions, we will find our hearts rewire. We will find that our habits change, and will begin to, out of habit, consume compassionately.
Jesus, thank You that in You, I have everything I need. Though I recognize there is a human need for consumption, I confess that my habits are not always compassionate. I pray that You would help reorient my heart and my mind to be content with what You have given me. Help me to see the implications of my spending habits and compel me to think deeply about how and where I spend my resources. Thank You for everything You have given me. You are good. Amen.
Challenge #2: Donate what you don’t need.
Have you ever stepped into your closet, your basement, or your garage and thought, “Where did all this stuff come from?”
You’re not alone. As technology improves and styles change, we are prone as a culture to upgrade. We see it in the commercials across our TV screens and the ads that saturate our social media channels. Over and over again, the messages say, “What you have is out of date. Out with the old and in with the new!”
So, we buy, we collect, and we store away. And slowly, but surely, we find that we have way more than we will ever need in a lifetime.
Jesus was not one to share this kind of message. In fact, He challenged this popular cultural phenomenon and even turned it on its head!
“Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same,” He says to a crowd in Luke 3:11. He then takes it a step further by saying, “Don’t collect any more than you are required to.”
What a convicting message from Jesus, the very Son of God.
Today, take inventory of the items you and your family own. While it seems commonplace to have multiple styles of one item—like a coat—it doesn’t mean it is necessary. Consider donating items you have in multiples. Then, take it a step further by giving away items that are perhaps distracting you from living a simple and holy life, or are simply more than what you need.
Jesus, in Your word we see Your clear call to live simply, and to give away what we do not need. It’s so easy as humans to become attached to our physical belongings. But Lord, I pray that You would help me loosen the grip I have on the things of this world that are not necessary or that take away from the thriving of my neighbor. Give me strength and courage as I challenge myself in this way. Amen.
Challenge #3: Try to only use “new technology” that is necessary for your life.
There’s an app for everything. With the purpose of making life more convenient, apps tend to clutter our minds and vie for our attention.
Between your Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and LinkedIn feeds, there is always something to keep your mind entertained.
But what is this constant flood of information really doing to us?
In Colossians 3:2 we are reminded that we are to set our minds on things above, not things below. But how natural is this to do when our eyes and minds are glued to our phones most of the hours of the day? Or when our minds are set on what our friends are up to, how our team is doing, or the latest fall fashion trends?
As you reflect more upon the technologies that consume your life, be sensitive to the Spirit’s leading. Ask God what He wants of You when it comes to the technology in your life. Prayerfully consider getting rid of phone apps that aren’t absolutely necessary for your everyday functioning.
Holy Spirit, living in this world can be such a tricky thing. There are so many exciting things vying for my attention and I admit it can be easy to set my eyes on the things of this world rather than on You. I ask You, Father, to convict me of the places where I need to simplify in my life. Show me the technologies that are distracting me and that are not necessary to my thriving, are not helpful in my walk with You, or are perhaps destructive to my spiritual health. I pray for Your grace as I try to cut out the things that distract and fix my eyes on the things that fulfill. Amen.
Challenge #4: Make a list every day of the things you’re grateful for.
In an Instagram culture that constantly serves us up pictures of what our lives could be, it’s easy for our hearts to be filled with envy. It’s easy to forget about the ways that God has provided for us and focus on the ways He has provided for others. It’s even easier to buy into the lie that we have been forgotten.
But as followers of Christ, it’s important to ground ourselves in the blessings we have been given and entrusted with. It’s pertinent to talk back to the scripts in our minds that are telling us that we need more, or that we need to keep up with the Joneses.
When we speak back to the envy that permeates our hearts in an age of social media comparison, it is an act of holy rebellion against the lies of the enemy.
In your morning or evening devotion routine, set some time aside to make a list of the things you have in your life that you are grateful for. Take time to thank God for each of these blessings and pray that He would remind you of the ways He has provided for you before and will provide for you again.
Father of all, You are so good. You are a God who sees and knows and gives generously to Your children. I pray for protection against the lies that tell me that I need more or that I don’t measure up. I pray that as I take account of the things You have done in my life, that they would stand as a testimony of Your goodness and Your faithfulness. I pray that I would be found grateful for all the ways You show Your love to me. May this simple practice of counting my blessings humble me so that I may live out of a place of gratefulness. Amen.
Challenge #5: Make giving a priority.
Giving of our time, money and resources for the good of others may seem counterintuitive when talking about simplifying.
But, as Jesus followers, when we make giving one of our core values, we realign our minds and hearts to the values of Christ’s upside-down Kingdom that says, “it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
Jesus was the best example of this. Over and over again in scripture, we see Jesus giving Himself to others—from washing their feet and breaking bread with them, to healing their sicknesses and even giving His life for us, Jesus was the ultimate servant leader.
What does this radical servanthood look like in your life? What gifts, talents, or resources might you be willing to share to bless others in your community or around the world?
When we open our hands and use our unique giftings to serve others, we can be confident that God will be faithful to use, and even multiply our humble offerings for His glory. Just like the little boy who offered up his lunch to Jesus so that He could feed the five thousand, we can be confident that the little we offer to others in faith will be used to further Christ’s kingdom more than we will ever know.
Lord Jesus, You call us as Your daughters and sons to make giving a priority. Over and over again in scripture, we see You give Yourself away to others selflessly. Jesus, I pray that I would look to Your example as I seek to live out of a posture of generosity to my neighbors. Thank You for the ultimate gift You gave so that I might be free. Amen.
Challenge #6: Let Christ be enough.
We live in a world that tries to sell us all sorts of products and schemes that promise us happiness. The average person in 2020 is estimated to encounter between 6,000 and 10,000 ads a day, between TV, social media, radio, billboards, magazines and more.
These ads promote skincare products that promise to prolong our youth and new cars that insist they will make our morning commute much smoother. But the longer we live, the more we learn that none of it truly satisfies.
The reason? We were not made to be satisfied by these things.
In his book, Confessions, Augustine of Hippo summarizes this truth perfectly saying, “You have made us for Yourself, Oh Lord. Our heart is restless until it finds its rest in You.”
In Jesus, we have everything we will ever need. We don’t need to chase material things or cheap thrills. We don’t need to follow our sinful desires into things that will harm us while looking for a high. In fact, we don’t even need to chase the things we consider good, but that are simply not God’s best for us. We have been set free from our fleshly desires. In Him alone, we find everything we are looking for.
Dedicate a part of your day to asking God to reveal to you the ways you are looking for satisfaction in places other than Him. Be honest with Him about the things You are chasing to feel whole, and ask Him to take that place instead.
Jesus, in this world it’s so easy to be distracted and believe the lie that the world has what we need to feel whole. It’s easy to consume to fill a void. It’s tempting to collect and hoard out of fear. It’s habit to distract myself with technology to keep my mind away from the things I don’t want to think about. But the truth is, You have given me everything I need in You. I have lived and known it deep within me that my heart is unsatisfied until it finds its rest in You. Father, show me each day the sweetness of communing with You. Teach my heart to crave Your presence. When You call me to Yourself each day, may I listen and stay awhile. May Your presence and Your goodness always be enough. Amen.