…having nothing, and yet possessing everything. 2 Corinthians 6:10b
Last month, Nelson and I spent a week with a group of migrant workers in the northeast. Some thirty servant leaders—many young couples, most with small children—stepped away from their daily lives of planting, tilling and reaping to be refreshed, to laugh and pray together, and to ponder on where they are and where they’re going.
Part of that rest time was spent in deep worship and shared praise. The words of one of the songs sung with great emotion during that week still resonate with me: 我只有耶稣, 还要什么了? – I only have Jesus, what more do I want?
Only Jesus. In so many of the songs we sing, we declare that Jesus is enough for us, more than enough, all we need. Really? Do I mean that? Don’t I really mean, “I need Jesus, plus…?”
The servant leaders we met last month, like so many others we know, live these words. They have chosen lives of Christian poverty, even though many of them are extremely gifted, hold degrees and sometimes even have—or had—well-paid jobs. A common misconception about Christian poverty is that it refers to those who have no resources, no means of rising to a better economic station in life. More accurately, it is the state of those who do not save their wealth, who do not spend it on themselves, because of the call of God’s Kingdom on their lives.
For years now, Nelson and I have been attempting to adopt such a lifestyle, one of living simply and frugally in order to make our resources available for the needs of God’s work and His people. It’s not a life of sacrifice, as some see it—that is surely the wrong word. Rather, it’s a life made so much richer, so much fuller, and so much more useful than it would be if we sought fulfillment in material things. It’s a joyous life that has enabled us to delight in God’s goodness and in many priceless experiences that have nothing to do with spending money on ourselves.
Yet we are still so far from achieving real victory over selfishness. We are so prone to desiring just a little bit more comfort, just a small personal indulgence here and there. Jesus, plus… How easy it is to fall back into feelings of satisfaction and security when we see an increase in our bank balance. We love giving money away, but how good it feels to have a reasonable amount left for us.
I love C.S. Lewis’ take on giving. He says, “I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. In other words, if our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, amusements, etc., is up to the standard common among those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving away too little. If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charities expenditure excludes them.”
Only Jesus. If those words are true for me, I won’t be concerned about giving away too much. I’ll rejoice in emptying my pockets for the sake of others, because I know I’ll always have all I need. It is so good to spend time with brothers and sisters who embrace this truth. I long for the day when, like them, I can sing without reservation, “I only have Jesus, what more do I want?”
Let us ask God to help you:
- Learn to set aside regular times to praise and thank Him alone for He alone is worthy and enough!
- Seek to understand what it means to choose Only Jesus in all circumstances you encounter daily.