Today begins my rebellion. I have been complacent too long. I’ve bought into the messages of our culture. Those not so subtle teachings that we really do need more stuff, bigger houses, larger plates to fill.
But in recent months God has been pointing out some areas of excess in my own life and showing me truth in His Word. (I wrote a bit more about this in an earlier blog post.) I’m not sure where it’s all headed, but the first step along the journey is to examine my life more closely in the light of God’s Word.
The 7 Experiment
This week I’m starting the study “The 7 Experiment” by Jen Hatmaker. She’s way ahead of me on this journey. God called her to fight back against our culture of excess by fasting in 7 critical areas over 7 months: Food, clothes, possessions, media, waste, spending, and stress. Her study covers them in 7 weeks, plus an intro and wrap-up. Each week, Hatmaker calls readers to “fast” from excess in that area.
You’re invited to join me as I work my way through this study. Two options: 1)You can get a copy of her book for yourself and do the complete study; or 2) You can do an abbreviated version with me here on this blog. I will post about my journey each Thursday, starting July 11.
Each Thursday I will:
- Introduce the area of excess
- See what God’s Word says about it
- Tell you what God has asked me to do for the week
- Challenge you to take part
The Tyranny of Things
When God wants to make sure we get something, He usually shows us the same truth repeatedly from multiple directions. In addition to starting “The 7 Experiment” this week, I’ve been reading A.W. Tozer’s book “The Pursuit of God.” In the second chapter, “The Blessedness of Possessing Nothing,” Tozer elaborates on how our pursuit of “things” can easily replace our pursuit of God.
God gave us endless gifts in this life to enjoy. But our fallen human nature tends to exalt those things over the God who gave them to us. We allow them to push God off His rightful throne in our hearts and sit there to rule. The list of possible rulers is endless: things, relationships, power, position, money, entertainment, and more. But the result is the same. We pursue things over God and in the end our possessions possess us. Tozer calls this the “tyranny of things.”
“The roots of our hearts have grown down into things, and we dare not pull up one rootlet lest we die. Things have become necessary to us, a development never originally intended. God’s gifts now take the place of God, and the whole course of nature is upset by the monstrous substitution.”
God’s Word on Excess
The Bible has a lot to say about the dangers of plenty. When Israel was about to enter the Promised Land, Moses warned them about the danger of living with no material need.
Read Deuteronomy 8:6-19. What is the primary danger to our souls?
No matter how much we have in this life, it will never be enough to buy our salvation or redeem our soul (Psalm 49:7-8). So why do we run after things so hard? We only end up materially rich and soul poor.
Read Matthew 16:24-26. What did Jesus say about this?
This week’s challenge
My personal goal for this journey is to take “things” off the throne of my heart and put God back where He belongs. Will you join me? If so, here’s my challenge for you before Thursday (I will be doing the same things):
- Pray about the condition of your heart when it comes to excess and stuff.
- Evaluate your motivation for “fasting” from excess. Is it for obedience and worship?
- If God has revealed you have a problem with excess and you are ready to allow Him to change your heart, commit to this journey with me.
What do you think? Do you think many Christians struggle with excess? What about you? Is there a specific area of weakness for you? Let me know if you plan to journey with me over the coming weeks.
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I will journey with you.
Hi Tina, glad to have you along!
I definitely think many Christians struggle with excess. I know I do. About 4 years ago, I began a journey to decrease my excess, to simplify my life. The more I simplify, the more I see the need to simplify. And the simpler my life becomes, the more space (margin) I have for God to move. Love how He is working for simplicity in my life and how He is turning that into ministry. My specific areas of weakness are getting caught up in what others think and in comparing myself to others. When I do those things, I gravitate toward excess. As for journeying with you on this, I definitely plan to do so. While I have really been on this journey for a while already, I think this will give me an opportunity to amplify what I’ve done and to tweak some things too. Also, I got into studying Deuteronomy 8 after reading your post and got a lot more out of it. Thanks for the leading!
Kari, I love what you said about creating margin in your life for God to move. I’d love to include “calendar” or “time” in the areas of excess we consider. So many of us fill up our time that we leave no room for God to call us to help, encourage, or minister. We’re just too busy!
I also think my journey will be ongoing like yours. I’m just getting started. I’m looking forward to you sharing what you’ve learned so far! Thanks for joining us!
I’m in….bought the book, will be following along and will be trying to simplify too. I’m single and live alone and have enough stuff for a family of 6!!!
It’s so hard for us to give up stuff…this will be a challenge, but a needed one.
Carol, I definitely think “excess” is no “respecter of persons. It hits us all no matter what our life situation. So glad you will be joining in!
Due to a divorce simplifying has been necessary. My profound disappointment that I can not have more “stuff” was matched only by my disgust at cleaning up all the “stuff” acquired during the marriage. I do need help, lots of it:) I ordered the book which will be here tomorrow and I can’t wait!
Hi Margo, so glad you found us! I think you’re statement about being both disappointed and disgusted at the same situation is profound. It seems most of us don’t like our desire for stuff but yet we have trouble breaking free of it. I’m praying God will break its hold on all of us!
I’m in! Just ordered the book (both actually) and am excited to journey with you!
Hi Kim, Glad to see you here! I think this journey may be difficult – I know it will be for me – but I’m praying God will refine us all and draw us closer to Him!
Yep, count me in. Thinking the pursuing of more things leads to more contentment is erroneous. While I know this I still pursue more things…..time to bite the bullet. Very timely as God has been speaking to me about this….thank you!
Hi Dana! So glad you’ll be joining me on this journey. Can’t wait to see what God has in store for us!
God’s been calling me to this journey for quite some time now, so I am joining in! Have the book, but I am excited to join a community of people doing the same thing as me. I may also post updates on my blog – not sure. Thanks for leading us!
Hi Jamie, so glad you’ll be coming along on this journey. I look forward to hearing about what God is teaching you!