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"Better is little with the reverent, worshipful fear of the Lord than great and rich treasure and trouble with it." Proverbs 15.16

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"Better is little with the reverent, worshipful fear of the Lord than great and rich treasure and trouble with it." Proverbs 15.16

Let's talk a little about christianity and minimalism.

Today, some people are realizing a truth that society does everything to hide from humanity; the truth that living constantly desiring and trying to acquire, possess, demonstrate and accumulate the objects and possessions considered as social treasures ends up creating a lot of noise, in addition to unnecessary weight in the mind, lifestyle and daily life of anyone; distracting men and women so that they lose sight of their balance and don't focus on what really matters. People who are understanding this are known, or have come to call themselves, as minimalists, and have dedicated themselves to an "alternative" lifestyle whose goal, according to the bestselling writer and minimalist pastor, Joshua Becker, it's not just about owning fewer things, but also, and most importantly, lightening people's lives so they can be and do much more with their resources.

But why am I saying this?

Because what minimalists have been realizing since this movement emerged is something true Christians have been taught, and practiced, for over two thousand years; exactly what God's Word already revealed when it was written: "Do not gather and heap up and store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust and worm consume and destroy, and where thieves break through and steal." Matthew 6.19. Sadly, there are many congregation members and leaders who have been seduced by the glittering, consumerist, flamboyant, extravagant, megalomaniac, and confusing lifestyle that the spirit of the world has created in society, and have turned away from the simplicity-based model that Holy Scripture teaches as being the best path to a meaningful, suitable, complete and fulfilled life; so the apostle Paul's concern is also recorded in 2 Corinthians 11:3, which says: “But now i am fearful, lest that even as the serpent beguiled Eve by his cunning, so your minds may be corrupted and seduced from wholehearted and sincere and pure devotion to Christ.”.

For many centuries, true Christianity has preached a less confusing, less exaggerated, more efficient, and more sustainable way of life, in every aspect; a versatile style in which people are not enslaved by the accumulation of their own material possessions, nor by the desire to acquire them; for Christians know that what determines the fulfillment and fullness of a life is not the amount of possessions it has; as Luke 12:15 makes clear when he says: "And He said to them, guard yourselves and keep free from all covetousness (the immoderate desire for wealth, the greedy longing to have more); for a man’s life does not consist in and is not derived from possessing overflowing abundance or that which is over and above his needs.".

Genuine Christianity invites us to experience and enjoy a moderate, more intentional, more conscious, more rational, simpler, and more meaningful lifestyle; that is, truly abundant; in which the material and mental distractions that have plagued and consumed humanity are reduced to open spaces in our minds and in our home, so that we can devote ourselves to the pursuit of what really matters, and has value, to us, as well as, to generate quality time to cultivate the virtues that strengthen and edify us, internally and externally, both as individuals and as a community and as a church of Christ. Virtues such as faith, wisdom, equity, serenity, charity, generosity, contribution and many others.

The model of Christian life has always been one that seeks to minimize, and therefore alleviate, the psychosocial burden that each person must carry throughout life, and that burden has oppressed multitudes; as Jesus himself stated in Matthew 11:28, when he said: "Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, an i will cause you to rest. I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.". In other words, Christianity helps us to eliminate all excesses from our personal, family, professional, financial and spiritual life; whether material excesses such as clothing, shoes, accessories, utensils, tools, decorations, equipment, appliances, electronics and other similar things that are almost never used and are taking up more and more space in the way of people’s life; whether it be mental excesses like ambitions, desires, fantasies and consumer dreams that are almost blindly guiding the choices and decisions of the crowds; or, they are senseless pseudo-spiritual excesses whose sole purpose is to deceive and create invisible prisons for anyone's life. Christians keep in their lives only those objects, feelings, habits and goals really necessary for solid construction and development of a lighter, simpler, more practical, more versatile, more productive, and therefore less stressful, less distressing existence, less confused and less ruled by the exaggerated standards of today's society.

Less actions and more results; fewer objects and more comfort; fewer commitments and more productivity; fewer goals and more efficiency, less investment and more return; less movement and more enjoyment; in short, less quantity and more quality in absolutely every choice and area of our life.

Most people have bought into the idea, socially seeded by the spirit of the world, that they must live with a house, mind, and life itself full of "junk and rubble" that society regards as treasures; and this leads them to always think that they do not have enough; therefore, unconsciously, they plunge headlong into the maddening and dizzying rush of unbridled consumption, buying and accumulating more clothes, more accessories, more appliances, more electronic equipment, more household items and absolutely the entire range of products that society is able to offer. Many have become compulsively addicted to shopping, others; they became what science calls hoarders, even in more severe cases developing a disorder known as accumulation disorder; however, if we carefully consider how people are currently living, we will see that a large part of the population has already become accumulators, although at a less aggressive level, but as negative as that demonstrated by those who have already developed this pathology.

Maybe you know people who buy all kinds of things and put them inside their homes, even though they don't have the space for it anymore. I know a few; I can cite an example that was emblematic for me, an old co-worker who spent literally thousands of dollars buying action figures of absolutely every superhero out there, Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Spiderman, Black Panther, Daredevil, every Avenger, X-Men and anyone else you can imagine.

The last time I’ve been to his house, there were box after box of these collectible toys and an absurd infinity of them all over the furniture in the living room and the couple's bedroom; yes, because this person is married, he has two adult children; and he almost lost his marriage because of what he calls "his collection of heroes". His wife asked me and another colleague to talk to him to try, somehow, to make him, at least, reduce that "collection" or buy less of those toys because the house no longer had any space. Unfortunately we weren't able to change that panorama and this friend keeps buying, and sending me little videos and photos, regularly to show his new acquisitions.

The spirit of the world has spread the pernicious thought that it is possible to achieve happiness and contentment through obtaining a great amount of objects, material goods and consumption dreams. This misguiding thinking is reinforced daily by each of the hundreds of advertisements and commercials that we are physically and digitally bombarded with; mainly in developed countries like the USA and also in developing countries like Brazil, people, many of them within congregations, have absorbed this distorted thinking and are trying, through the accumulation of possessions, things and various objects, to find happiness and satisfaction; but without lasting success. They ignore the fact that, as human beings, our fallen nature always tends to act in the following way: "The more things we have, the more things we want to have." This is what some scientists call "The Diderot Effect."

Exactly as written in Proverbs 27:20b, when it says: "... So the lust of the eyes of men is never satisfied.".

But what these people do not know is that the more things someone has, the more such things come to possess that person as well; from a certain level onwards, we cease to be the owners of the objects we own, and they become our owners, that is, the more things we own, the more energy, space and money we will spend to protect, repair and maintain them, as well as, more worried and anxious we'll be not to lose them by any unpredictable movement of life. For example: The more clothes we have, the more time, energy, physical space and money will be required to wash, iron and organize them minimally well, and more we will worry about a poor wash or some trivial oversight, ours or others , don't spoil any of them; it is the same with almost everything that goes into excess in our life; from collectible action figures to our automobile, from our utensils and accessories, through our books, to our electronic equipment; and much more. Any excess generates some kind of mental heaviness that also accumulates within us.

Before they know it, people start buying and accumulating far more clothes and accessories than they can wear; acquire much more appliances, furniture and electronics than would be ideal for the space they have at home; they change cars more often than they need to; they take more trips than they are able to really enjoy fully; they increase their spending on trifles, and many other things like that, all for the sake of trying to find little nuggets of happiness and fulfillment among the mountains of unnecessary things they are always piling up.

Such people think that all this accumulation of objects, which is perfectly acceptable in worldly society, can add to them some personal or even spiritual value in relation to other people who do not have the same amount of things or similar possessions; for example: Let's be honest here. Unfortunately, in mundane society a man or woman who drives a ferrari, a lamborghini, a rolls-royce, or any other brand of luxury car tends to feel superior to those who drive brands that are socially considered inferior or more conventional, but still they can't feel really happy and peaceful at their core, for they are looking for happiness in a mere object that someone has promised would make them feel complete; and make no mistake, this phenomenon occurs even with people within congregations.

Obviously, not all people think this way, but it is undeniable that we have been taught for decades the false truth that the more renowned and desired the brands we have, the better positioned we will put ourselves in front of other people's eyes and perception, and the happier we are supposed to be. But look at the teaching that has kept true Christians immune from all this commercial manipulation; it is written in Romans 12:16: "...Do not covet high things, but accommodate yourselves with humble ones...".

Every year the world's large companies spend literally billions of Dollars on marketing and advertising to find ever more subtle and effective ways to enter people's minds and distort their perceptions of their needs, making them believe they need to things that aren't actually necessary; they create new artificial demands, superficial needs, so that they can sell even more artificial and short-term solutions. Such companies are masters in changing people's thoughts and consumption patterns, accelerating them, making them believe that the purchase and accumulation of the products they have to offer is capable, in some way, of raising the social status of a individual; therefore, when people start to live in this way, they begin to confuse their own identity with the brands of the things and goods they own.

This "mechanics" happens with practically everything that people want or buy, they start to devote their lives to spend, and sometimes even completely waste, their own sweat, time and money to acquire more and more things, possessions, which are more and more expensive, in for the sake of finally buying and "hoarding" (accumulating) happiness, one object at a time, in the vain hope of finally feeling complete and satisfied with life because of the supposed "glory" (vainglory) contained in the objects that are accumulating (at least that's the promise of the spirit of the world). But look at what Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, taught genuine Christians: "Let us not become vainglorious..." Galatians 5:26a.

What the minimalists have discovered, and what true Christians have always known, is that this process almost never works as society promises; also for this reason there are in Isaiah 55:2 some questions to make us reflect on this matter; is written? "Why do you spend money on what is not bread? And your earnings for what does not satisfy?...". Anyone who diligently reflects on life will come to the conclusion that happiness and true satisfaction cannot be attained by exaggeratingly accumulating of material possessions, no matter how great a quantity we have them, nor how expensive and exclusive they are; for this reason Paul, the apostle, taught in 1 Timothy 6:8: "But if we have food and clothing, with these we shall be content (satisfied)."; in other words, he is saying the following: Learn to live contentedly, happily, and fulfilled without the excesses that society insists are indispensable.

The Christian lifestyle dialogues very well with the minimalist philosophy because it has always been based on abundance in simplicity, focus on what is really essential and efficiency without distractions; always trying to keep us away from the accumulation of "treasures" that the spirit of the world calls wealth, but which in fact are just junk that loses its value over time, because such things bring with them all kinds of disturbance, restlessness and various pains; as demonstrated in Revelation 3:17; which says: "For you say, I have prospered and grown wealthy, and I am in need of nothing; and you do not realize and understand that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.". Many people are living with a house full of all kinds of objects and possessions (social wealth), they continue to buy many more, as much as they can, and without knowing why, they feel increasingly discontented, bewildered, incomplete, empty and miserable. It's terrible, but it's true.

And how to get rid of all this distorted thinking?

Proverbs 15:16 teaches us this clearly when it states that, "Better is little with the reverent, worshipful fear of the Lord than great and rich treasure and trouble with it.". But you need to understand that having little does not mean lacking, nor does it mean having any kind of deprivation; quite the contrary, in the essence of this verse, having little means simply having more than enough, however, without the exaggerations of the unbridled consumption that floods our time. It is using less to do and live more and better in all areas of our existence.

Therefore, the way for someone to extricate themselves from all this insanity of repeating and self-feeding purchases and accumulations, like a vicious and automatic cycle that is governing the way of life of billions of people all over the the world, is to reduce, or " considerably minimizing" the amount of possessions and goods they own and desire to possess, keeping only those objects that are really necessary for building an abundant, simple, efficient, rich, and sustainable life in every aspect.

Long before the movement and modern minimalist philosophy emerged as a valid and useful tool to respond to the consumerist chaos that had set in, dominated and violated society, genuine Christians, both those with fewer resources and those extremely wealthy, were already adopting practices to minimize all social excesses in their lives, because they always understood that having fewer things they could be, do, and serve much more, to God, to themselves, and to everyone around them, in order to experience life with much more purpose and quality, as well as, with much less waste and disturbance; just as Ecclesiastes 4.6 teaches when it says, "Better is a handful with with quietness than both hands full with painful effort, a vain striving after the wind and feeding on it.".

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