As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. (Revelation 3:19)My entire Christian life has been about God whittling away at my sinfulness. He uses His Word, other people, and circumstances to show me where I am not like Jesus, what I need to confess, and when I need to repent. Examples abound.
One of them concerns self-discipline. This is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Self-discipline might use the word ‘self’ but it is not something I can do properly apart from God’s input. This type of discipline is less about coercion from God and more about decisions and determination. If I do not practice this kind of discipline, God eventually says something to me in the form of a rebuke.
For example, yesterday I made a renewed vow to rid my space of clutter. Another Christian questioned me. Was this something that pleases God or not? I explained my actions using this passage.
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. (Hebrews 12:1)For me, clutter is one of those weights that keeps me from running with endurance. I’m a detail person and every object in my house is noticed and can easily become a distraction from doing something more important. Being attention-deficit doesn’t help. I need to focus, but also lay aside those weights.
I didn’t realize the power of clutter until our month vacation in Scottsdale. We stayed in a clutter-free condo. Part of the freedom I felt had to do with being away from home, but a larger part was being without the distraction of stuff. This week the Lord is reminding me that I need to keep working at the spiritual discipline of simplicity in regard to possessions. I do not use or need all that is in my house.
Sometimes knowing what to toss is difficult. We turned our closet hangers backwards this year to help us know which clothes are not being worn. Once worn, the hanger is turned the other way. At the end of the year, it will be easy to see what has not been used.
It is not as easy with books. I’d rather spend money at Chapters than at a ladies wear. Sometimes I go to my book shelves for reference, or even to reread a fiction book, but many of them have dust on top. Do I turn my books backwards too? Or are they as big a distraction as other things in the house?
If I look at this with eternity in mind, I’m reminded that someday all of the ‘stuff’ will be left behind. Most of it is not necessary in serving God. Some of it even grabs me around the ankles and pulls me into neutral, even reverse. Those things are weights I do not need to lift, but practicing the discipline of simplicity is far from simple.
Another rebuke was about time-wasting. I could be writing instead of watching television, folding laundry instead of doing crossword puzzles. A little R&R might be important. I have trouble drawing the line at little. Once it becomes selfish indulgence, I immediately start to drift away from God’s will.
Jesus Christ actively involved Himself in ministry for a bit more than three years. During that time, “Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book” (John 20:30). He accomplished more in those short years than many do in a lifetime, yet His life was as simple as it could be. He owned nothing, carried nothing with Him, and did only as the Father asked Him to do. To live is Christ might not mean those same extremes, but I know that I can do much better than I’m doing.