Out of compassion you should do without your due allowance of food and clothing so that you may share with your less fortunate brothers and with the poor in general.
- The Rule of Colmcille, Irish, 9th century
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.
- 2 Corinthians 8.9
In our generation, many do not like the idea of doing without. Marketers and advertisers, knowing this to be the case, pluck incessantly at the “want-strings” of our hearts, and banks line up beside them to offer us cheap credit for all our heart’s desires. It rarely occurs to us that we don’t really need all the stuff we want. Or that there may be better ways of using our resources than mere self-indugence. Like sharing with those who have far less.
We may be squandering the future of our children and our nation by our covetousness and self-indulgence, running up debt, encouraging our government to debase the money supply with its bailouts, handouts, and other gimmicks for securing political power, and, for many of us, living beyond our means. We are certainly missing opportunities to show the grace of God in tangible ways to those in need in our community.
And still, for too many of us, we want what we want, and we see no reason for not obtaining it if we can. To the extent this describes us, we need to consider whether this is consistent with what it means to follow Christ.
Do we insist on our right to ample leisure time? Do we ever consider that such time might be better spent in reading, study, conversation, or prayer? Or in serving others?
Do we tithe? Or do we expect the Lord to be content with what we have left over, after all our wants have been satisfied? Perhaps we have not learned to be content with wanting Him above all else?
Too many of today’s Christians differ but little from our unsaved neighbors and friends when it comes to wanting their share of the things of this material and sensual age. Material things are not inherently evil, and, by God’s grace, they can be a source of blessing, especially when we share with those in need. But they can also become idols that capture our hearts more than the Lord, and drain away our best energies.
What’s the purpose of all this getting and possessing? All this endless self-indulgence? If we mean to find happiness by it, then this is idolatry. If we’re just addicted to acquiring and indulging things, then we need to discipline our hearts to prefer other objectives.
If, that is, we wish truly to be followers of our Lord Jesus.
Jesus provided the example for all His followers. He gave up His throne, His place at the Father’s right hand, all His heavenly perks and privileges, and took upon His glorious Self the form of a human being. He denied Himself every earthly possession, save the clothes on His back – and they, too, would be taken from Him – so that He might give Himself entirely for the salvation of the world.
What does it mean to follow Jesus, if not to deny ourselves more than what we need for each day, learn contentment, take up the cross of sacrifice and suffering, and go to those in need with the Good News of redemption? Doesn’t following Jesus mean devoting every moment of our time to seeking His Kingdom and living for His glory – the glory of the self-denying One?
The idea of doing without – possessions, sleep, food, fun – is for many of us all but unthinkable. Or else, we’ve never really thought about it, because we are simply too much children of our narcissistic and materialistic age. If we and our time were less filled with the things of this world, we might begin to be more filled with Him Who is filling all things in all things (Eph. 1.15-23).
Less of this world; more of Jesus. More of Jesus, more of Jesus to show and share with others.
Each of us needs to consider whether self-indulgence may not be the great weight hindering our progress in the race to follow Jesus (Heb. 12.1, 2). Can we learn self-denial, and discipline ourselves to be content with less?
For Jesus, this was a way of life. Will we follow Him or continue to march in step with our covetous and consuming age?
1. How can you tell whether you are indulging in the things of this world more than you should?
2. What could you do to begin making better Kingdom use of your material possessions?
Psalm 101.1, 2 (Jesus, I Come: Out of My Bondage, Sorrow, and Night)
I will of lovingkindness now sing –
praise to You, Lord! Praise to You Lord!
Justice and mercy, Lord, let me bring –
praise to You, holy Lord!
I will the blameless way ever heed;
no worthless thing my eyes shall impede.
When will You come and care for my need?
Praise to You, holy Lord!
You gave up a great deal in order to come to me, Lord; what can I begin to give up so that I might…
Thanks be to God!
We hope you find Crosfigell a helpful resource for your walk with and work for the Lord. If so, won’t you prayerfully consider sharing in the financial support of The Fellowship of Ailbe? If the Lord is speaking to you about supporting our work, it’s easy enough to do, and all gifts are, of course, tax-deductible. You can click here to donate online through credit card or PayPal, or send your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 360 Zephyr Road, Williston, VT 05495.
T. M. Moore, Principal
All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 Ó Maidín, p. 41.