Why our lives get complicated.
“In the coming year, I want to add more complexity to my life, increase my stress, and lose sight of what’s truly important,” says no one—ever.
Most of our goals are attempts to do the exact opposite of that. We long to simplify our lives, be more intentional about what really matters, and live peace filled lives. Why is it then, that at the end of each year, the vast majority of us find ourselves wanting to hit the reset button?
It’s simple really. Our priorities get misplaced.
Before long, we’re stuck in the same patterns of busyness and chaos we found ourselves in before and, even though we spend our time on good things, we neglect the best things. We may genuinely love God but still miss His best.
So, what do we do? How do we break the cycle and orient our lives away from complexity and towards simplicity? Is it even possible?
God doesn’t hang us out to dry. 1 Corinthians 13:8-13 gives us a framework for change.
“8Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 13And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love
Three steps to simplifying your life.
Step 1: We need to grow up.
Verse 11 basically says the first thing we need to do is to grow up.
“Wait, but I am grown up,” you may be saying. The thing is, Paul isn’t talking about physical age here. The word child refers to a small child. The word “think” here is the same root word we come across in Romans 12:2 where Paul says not to “think more highly of yourself than you ought to.” The word think in this context is about processing and evaluating what’s going on and why.
Small children don’t have the capacity to reason in this way. Instead, they are controlled by their wants and desires for immediate gratification.
In contrast, adults should be mature and “think” differently. We should process and evaluate what’s going on and why, think through the positive and negative consequences of our decisions, and consider what’s best and wise for the longest haul for the most people?
Ultimately, Paul is saying we need to become mature.
Step 2: We need to stop what isn’t working.
The way you’re presently living will continue to produce the outcomes you’re currently getting.
If you never see your kids because your job continually pulls you away from your family, it may be that you need to find a new job.
If your schedule is so full that you don’t have time to read the Bible much anymore or be involved in a small group, you may need to drop something.
What do you need to do to create time and make margin for in your life?
For some of us, it may be that we need to change the group of people we’re hanging around if we find ourselves making progress only to be pulled back away.
Do you need to keep burning two to three hours a night because you’re exhausted? Do you need to drink that second glass of wine every night, or do you basically have an addiction?
We live in a world that’s complex and what our Heavenly Father is calling us to do is take a time out. The worst thing that could happen is for your life to be an ice sculpture that looks good to everyone but in the end turns to a puddle of nothing.
This is hard stuff, and unless we grow up and evaluate what’s wise and best, we run the risk of pursuing “good things” that actually produce a “bad” life.
Step 3: Make love the priority.
How would your life look if you structured everything around loving God and loving people?
When we make love the priority in our lives, we can’t go wrong. The danger is when competing demands force us to try and do everything, but in the end we don’t do anything very well.
Our time, resources, and relationships reflect what we value.
Love ruthlessly refuses to allow temporal good things to crowd out the eternal “best” things. In a sense, love brings clarity to our lives and helps us focus on who really want to become, the kinds of relationships we want to have, and what we want to be known for.
Love creates clarity in our lives and eliminates complexity.
At the end of the day, this is about becoming holy. God’s heart isn’t that you become religious and weird, but that you might taste and experience His will for your life which is good, acceptable and perfect.
If you want to know if you’re doing the right thing, ask God and delve into His word. His word is a lamp to your feet and a light to your path.
In the coming year, when you’re tempted to listen to the world instead of what God says, remember these three steps so your priorities don’t get misplaced.
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