Consider the Lilies

Yesterday I picked up a box of "golden" Oreos. This is a bad thing. I like them so much that I won't stop eating them. Blergh!

I must preface this post by saying that it is a rough draft. It's a collage of various thoughts, unsorted. I recently came across these two passages of scripture which have given me pause. The second of the two I have often passed over as unrealistic, hyperbolic advice. Much like Homer Simpson, I had written them off as "That book that has advice that doesn't work out in real life." I present them here as fodder for the thoughts to follow.

The first is from 1 Timothy 5:
6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.
7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
11 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.

A few weeks back, while reading the scriptures with my darling family, I came upon this passage, that I must have read twenty times, and passed over, but I broke apart entirely into tears because it dissolved a black knot of worry that has been forming in my mind:

This next is from the beloved Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), which to my mind forms the core of Christian behavior.

Matthew 6
25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?
28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:
29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

I don't think this is an admonition to run around in the forest wearing only a loincloth. It's recognized that I have need of these things. I just shouldn't worry so much about them. From my perspective it seems like I'm working my butt off and therefore I have the necessities of life. But if I pull back a little bit I can see how events unfold to help me. Kind friends and neighbors deliver sacks of clothing to our doorstep. I was sitting in my living room the other day and I realized that all the furniture was either given to us, or we bought it second-hand for less than 10% of regular price. I eat tomatoes from my back yard. They grow there spontaneously. The bishop showed up the other day to see if we wanted a quarter hog that some local folk had butchered up.

This process is reversed as well. My wife and I serve wherever called, and give of our resources wherever we are able. I don't like to talk much about this a la the left hand/right hand provision.

I have been thinking recently over my policy of divestment. This is to live contentedly within my means, and to not pursue the accumulation of wealth. The whole system seems set up to either prey on or protect the interests of those that have assets.


The bums are on to something. Now, the trick is to live providently, with an abundance of resources to be used (by self, family, and to enrich the community), but without an accumulation of resources (and the attendant worries). By the time I'm fifty I'll be back to where I was when I was a teenger-- back at a zero net worth! (from negative net worth).


How can this be done with a wife and four children?


I grew up poor. I didn't realize it at the time because I was having such a good time. I was eating blackberry cobbler made from blackberries picked down by the railroad tracks. I was eating crabapples off a tree at the start point of my paper route. My point is that the abundance of a good life comes from simplicity.

It comes down to the nature of life. This life is important, but transitory. A hundred years from now, every human now living, all six billion, will be in the ground and their spirit selves formed into new societies in the spirit world. What will matter then?

We are here today and gone tomorrow. That is not a cause of sadness to me, but a cause of happiness. It helps me keep things in perspective. Material things are there to be used for the joy of man. A thing can give joy by keeping it, but often even more joy by giving it away.

PS- as usual I make my usual disclaimer. I always wince a little when quoting scripture because that's really obnoxious. I have the usual foibles of mankind. I don't advertise my struggles with those things here. Just don't be surprised if ever my faults come to light.


PPS- Naturally, I have not fully developed these ideas. I don't plan on lazing about all day. I plan on working hard, but working with a different aim: for the joy of working, and to provide for my family, and to benefit others (and to have a few armies to play wargames! Again for the joy of life).



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