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About this series
Doing Less, Loving More
Most of us live very complex lives that move too fast, deliver too little, and demand too much. We often succumb to the push and pull of all the demands. We lack time for God, relationships, or ourselves. We know we need to change our pattern of life, but we either put it off or just don't know how to get started. In the end, there's a key question we need to ask and answer: What do we want to be known for? It is possible to break free from the high speed, high pressure, high demand, guilt-producing disease of our lives. The answer is counter-intuitive and it's found in 1 Corinthians 13. Discover what is needed to enjoy Spiritual Simplicity in today's fast paced lifestyles.More from this series
What would happen if sometime, you started a brand new journey and the new journey went something like this: I’m not sure what I’ll do with the entire rest of my life, but until I take my last breath, I’m going to start thinking and planning and praying and structuring my life, my activities, and my energy, and my money around two things, loving God and loving people.
And I’m going to stop cheating by saying one thing and pretending it’s true and I’m going to ask: do my finances and my time and my closest relationships reflect that I really love God and love people? And here’s the promise. Love never fails.
You’ll never have a regret. You’ll never say no to one youth sport activity or a few more hours at work or one more deal that you can do. Where you say, no, this vacation’s planned and we’re going to go away.
You’ll never look back and go, Oh, I wish you would have done one more deal. But you will look back with regret if love’s not the number one priority.
And so, he tells us how to do it. Are you ready for this? He says: grow up. So how does love respond to misplaced priorities? You grow up. I mean, look at what he says! Verse 11. He says, “When I was a child, I talked, I thought, and I reasoned as a child but when I became a man,” and this word means, a man who has responsibility who’s at the point in his life that he’s old enough to reproduce.
So, I did a little thinking about how kids think or children think. And the word for child here is a small child. So, let me tell you how children think and then we’ll talk about how adults think and then you can ask yourself, How am I talking and thinking and reasoning like a child?
The word talk here just means what comes out of your mouth. It’s no technical term to it. But what comes out of our mouth always reveals what’s in our heart.
The word think here is that same word that’s used in, same root word that’s in, remember Romans 12:2? “Don’t think more highly of yourself than you ought to think but think as to have sober,” in fact, same word, “judgment as God has allotted to each.” It’s about processing and evaluating what’s going on and why.
And then the word reasoning here, is one of my favorite words, it’s logizomai. It’s found in Romans 12:1. Do you hear it? “Logic-omai.” It means to reason. It’s a very clear, it’s a reckoning, it’s an accounting term, it’s weighing things; here’s all the positive, here’s all the negatives, here’s the P&L, here’s what we’ll deliver here, here’s what won’t.
It’s a reasoning, matter of fact, thinking. And in Romans 12:1 at the very end, it says, “For this is your spiritual service of worship. The word spiritual or reasonable is this word.
Now, here’s how kids think. Here’s how they – when I hear kids talk, little kids, they say, “I want it.” I mean, I did an experiment, a sociological experiment Friday night. I had two kids stay overnight in my house. One was three. And one just turned six. And I heard, “Papa, I want that. I want that. I want that. Can we do this? Can, please, please, yes, yes, can, want, want, want, want, want.” That’s how kids think. Or how they talk.
And then, how they think is – what? About them. I mean, there’s fifty toys on our living room floor. There’s two kids. One kid’s playing. “I want that! I want that! Nah, nah, I want, I want!”
Kids, by nature, they don’t wake up in the morning thinking, I wonder how I can encourage mom and dad today.
Or they don’t walk into a room with other seven-year-olds and say, “Hey, anybody feeling kind of down? Need a little time to talk? Did everybody, hey, did everyone get their milk? I want to make sure. I’ve got two here.” You can have seven milks and three kids and they fight over who has two or three! That’s childish.
Paul says when he was a child, he talked like a child. Want, want, want. He thought like a child, about me, me, me. And he reasoned as a child. And the way kids reason are called, “now.” Immediate gratification.
If you tell them, “You can have five candy bars a week from now or you can have one now,” the wrapper’s off of it. They can’t even think about five candy bars later.
It’s immediate, it’s now, I’ve got to have it. That’s how kids think. How do adults think? Talk and reason. Well a kid says, “I want.” An adult says, “What’s needed? What’s needed here?” Not what I want. Not what you want. What’s needed? What’s best?
Kids say, “It’s all about me.” When you’re an adult, what you realize is, anything that works, it’s about others. Maturity is thinking about others.
Especially for you moms, I don’t think there’s probably hardly a mom in the whole world that gets up thinking, Oh, I wonder how I’m going to spend this day on me today.
When you’re an adult, when you walk into an office, it’s about: what do these people need? I’m responsible. You think about others.
An adult’s reasoning goes something like this. Two words: delayed gratification. It’s not what this is going to deliver today, it’s what is it going to deliver over the long haul? What will this behavior produce next week, next year, five years from now?
Adults ask the question, not: what can I have now? Adults ask: what is needed and what is best for the longest haul for the most people? What’s wise? What has value? What will deliver?
Now, he goes on to talk about: cloudy vision leads to complexity. And I want to give you, you and me, a little grace because if you think these messages are hard to listen to, you should have to come up with them. I’m serious.
I’ve got to apply this stuff. If I don’t apply it to me first, I’ve got nothing to say. And the principle is, notice what he says, “For now, we see in a mirror dimly.” And by the way, a mirror in the ancient world was not like your mirror where everything was clear. It was a piece of steel that was brushed. And so, you could see yourself and you could make yourself out, but it was cloudy.
You knew who it was and it was helpful, but it wasn’t crystal clear. He says now, temporal, in this life, the way we’re living, we see in a mirror but it’s kind of cloudy. So it’s complex. And so it’s hard to know.
And some people say this and some people say this and then you get busy and you feel a pull here and a pull here. And there’s competing demands. And there’s a demand for this and a demand for this. The demand for family, demand for work.
When do you do what? How can you ever know? And so, most of us try and do it all. And not do any of it very well. And neglect their own soul.
He says, “Now we see in a mirror dimly but then,” he’s talking about when Christ comes back, “then we’ll see fully. Now we know and see in part but then it’s going to be face to face.”
Jot in your notes 1 John 3:2. We do not know what we will be like, but this is what we know. When we see Him, we will be like Him.
When you meet Christ face to face, we will be transformed and we will be like Him. Not God, but as created beings, these glorified bodies, I mean, everything gets clear.
And when it’s clear, notice what happens. When things are absolutely clear, he says, “Now abide faith, hope, and love. The greatest of these is love.” Why? One, because it lasts. Faith is trusting or believing in what I can’t see, the promises and the character of God, but someday, faith becomes sight.
Hope is this anchor of your soul, this certainty that God says, “I am coming back. I have forgiven you. I am in control.” And it’s not a wish. It’s an absolute hope. But at one point in time your hope turns from hope to possession. You will walk with God if you’re a Christ follower, if you’ve received His forgiveness.
But love will continue on because when you see Him face to face, what’s 1 John say? “God is love.” We will love one another perfectly. That’s why it’s never ruined. It never falls.
When you have a cloudy vision about your purpose and your priorities, it produces complexity. When you have a clear vision about where you’re going, why you’re going there, what’s important, and how to get there, it produces love.
Now, if I was sitting there like I’ve been with this text and I really wanted my priorities – and some of these are big issues, right?
I mean, this isn’t like, “Oh hey, why don’t you pray a couple extra little prayers?” I mean, this is some of you saying, “You know what? I’m not sure I’m in the right job.” This is some of you saying, “Well, if this isn’t the right job, I don’t know if I can continue living in this community.”
For some of you, it’s like, “Well, you know, we’re both working and we never see our kids. Maybe one of us needs to stop.” For some it’s like, “My schedule is nuts. I intend and want and I don’t read the Bible, I don’t talk with God much, and I can’t figure why it’s not working.” Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding. “I know that I could get help from people but I’d love to get in one of those small groups, I hear it’s really great. I don’t have time.”
To make time to love God, to create margin, to nourish your own soul. Some of you haven’t taken a day off in ages and haven’t had what’s a real vacation in years. And you know what? You reap and then you’re going to sow. But what you need to hear is, this isn’t a message: you have misplaced priorities and God is mad at you. What you need to hear is you’re living in a world that’s complex, in a place that’s fast, with a lot of smart people.
And this is your heavenly Father saying, Let’s call a time out. I don’t want your life to end up a super-duper temporal ice sculpture that impresses people and then you get near the end of your life or maybe even five or ten years from now and the most important relationships and issues in your life be puddles of water.
And you say, “Wow, I was successful. My kids got in this school.” Or, “I was upwardly mobile,” or, “I worked all these hours and they promoted me,” or, “I did this and I did that.” And then you just think, and it profited you nothing. And then you became nothing.
And so you’ve got to grow up. You’ve got to learn to talk like an adult. You’ve got to start asking questions like, “What’s really needed?” You need to begin to think like an adult.
What do the people in my sphere that I’m responsible for – what do they need? Not what do they want? Not what makes them happy, not, if I say this will they reject me?
Do they need a cell phone at this age? Do they need to be watching this or that? Are these the right friends for them to be with? For some of us, do I need to keep hanging around this group of people that I find myself making progress and pulled back away? Do I need to keep burning two to three hours a night because I’m exhausted? Do I need to keep that second glass of wine every night or do I basically have an addiction?
See, this is hard stuff. Unless we grow up, unless we ask, you know what? What’s wise? What’s best? Who do I really want to become? What kind of relationships do I really want to have?
What do you want to be known for? What do you really want to be known for? I can’t think of a greater goal than – and I’m praying and I’ve got so far to go. But I would love – I don’t want my kids, adult kids now, to say, “Wow, my dad was a busy pastor.” I’d like my adult kids to say, “My dad had a lot on his plate but, man, I heard from him every week. He had time for my kids. He really cared about me.”
I want my wife, I figure at the pace that I go I’ll probably go before she does. I hope so. Because I need her a lot more than she needs me. But, man, I hope after I die, I hope my wife will say, “You know something? He did have a lot on his plate but, man, we had a rich, deep…he loved me. He loved me and he loved God.”
And what I can tell you is, I’ve had various seasons of my life, like you have in your life, where I just had to say, “You know something? I’m going to have to uncloud my vision and I may see in part but if you want, this is a lamp unto your feet and a light unto your path.”
If you want to get clear vision, you have to be in God’s Word. No legalism, no ought or got to. It is a love relationship. If you want to know if you’re doing the right thing you need to talk and talk to God out loud. And when you’re confused, ask Him a question and sit quietly and see if He doesn’t give you direction.
If you want to make it in this life and stay clear and stay on course it’s not hard to do it alone, it’s impossible to do it alone. You will have to create margin in your life to be with a group of people to say, “I can’t love God and love others by myself. Will you help me?”
If you want the kind of family that is in the back of your mind that you hope someday, someway you’re going to have, you will have to structure in times around the table and times for vacation and times to really talk. Because you’re going to get the outcomes of what you’ve structured.
The way you’re presently living is going to produce the continued outcomes of what you’re presently receiving. It really is about just loving God and loving one another.
If you’ll turn to the last page, I put our Romans 12 application as being separate from the world’s values, because, in essence, what I’ve really talked about is how to be holy. Holy is not, that word conjures up for some of us, black robes and candles and people with really big black Bibles and sometimes weird and mystical. The word “holy,” you know what it means? It just means different. The word literally means something that’s set apart. That it’s special. It just means different. God wants a different life for you. A better life. A holy life. Is moral purity a part of it? Absolutely. But He wants something different for you. I mean, look at the families in America and the single people in America and all the pain and all the junk and all the stuff. He’s just saying, I don’t want that for you. So stop being conformed to this world’s values and start, not trying hard, but renew your mind.
Say no to some of the movies and some of the stuff and some of time and some of the novels and some of the relationships that keep telling you you’ve got to look like this and act like this and earn this much and do this stuff and live at this pace. And shut out some of that and start renewing your mind with God’s truth. And then notice, look in your notes. What’s the second half of that verse say? What’s His heart? His heart isn’t that you become religious and weird. His heart is that you might approve or taste or test or experience His will for you, which is good, acceptable, and perfect.
I jotted down, when we have misplaced priorities, even when it’s out of ignorance, we end up buying what we don’t need to impress people that don’t care. We listen to what the world says instead of what God’s Word says. We assume that the goal in our parenting is to make our kids successful and happy, instead of holy. We don’t live differently, and therefore the great majority of all people who sincerely love God miss God’s best.
And the point of simplifying your life is not to become some weird, religious, fanatical Christian in the negative sense. It’s that you could be holy as God is holy. So that you could experience the very best and that when people would rub up against your life and your lifestyle and your values as a single person, as a married person, as people with kids, they would see a refreshing, peaceful, deep, connected relationship that flows out of your time with God, your time with others, and they would just say something like, “You know something? This world’s nuts. How could you say no to that opportunity?”
Or, “How do you balance your life with all your responsibility?” And you will have an answer that will say, “You know something?
I was going really strong and I really loved God but I came out of denial. And I decided that I would actually make loving God and loving people my number one priority and trust that the hard decisions and the people that I disappoint, that God was big enough to take care of that.” And that’s my prayer for you.