I don’t know about you, but I get restless when spring comes around. I itch to get out of the house and do things, whether it is raking away the soggy layer of leaf sludge that fell in the autumn, or planting herbs and vegetables in the backyard. One thing I tend to do as an outlet for this restlessness is reorganizing and de-cluttering my desk, bookshelves, car, and really anything that seems messy to me. I cannot tell you how many times I have rearranged my desk at the office or emptied out my drawers and ruthlessly tossed stuff out. It is just something I have to do. Maybe I have a little OCD. But after I have done away with things, I can think more clearly and my creative juices flow more freely.
Sometimes I think we as Christians and active church members can get so bogged down by all the stuff we think we have to do that we are in danger of losing sight of what is truly necessary. Whether it be helpful books, small groups, church activities, or even ministry opportunities, sometimes it is better for our souls to reevaluate and simplify to concentrate on what actually benefits our walk with the Lord.
Here are some questions to ask yourself as you go through and weed out your inventory of spiritual aids and activities.
Is Christ the Lord of it? Many times we get caught up in doing very good things for the wrong reasons. One of these wrong reasons could be that it is something we want to do without giving thought to what Christ wants. It might be very helpful to others, but unless you can say that it is a Christ-appointed activity then you may need to reconsider.
Does it bring glory to God? We can be tempted to use spiritual activities or aids to impress others or feel good about ourselves. Examine your motivations in doing this activity, because sometimes the activity is more about bringing glory to ourselves.
Is it really helping me or anyone else in a way that matters? Superfluous activities that have no eternal value, even if they are good, are a waste of time. Do you really need to lead that small group in Christian finances when no one is experiencing difficulty in that area? Do you really need to read that book on Christian entrepreneurialism when you are not going to head a startup anytime soon? Be aware of addressing real needs, while also being mindful that sometimes God calls us to obedience in things we do not understand. We may not know why He is calling us to do something, but we are to do it with all our focus and passion because we are doing it unto Him.
Am I ignoring a spiritual need in my life to do this? A person who is easily tempted by gossip might not need to invest a lot of time in reading his or her favorite Psalm. It is too easy to sweep our faults under the rug and leave them unaddressed while we enjoy our favorite spiritual activities. Know your spiritual health. How are you doing in your daily walk with the Lord? Is there something lacking in your spiritual life that needs attention? Do not distract yourself with good things that would ultimately waste your time.
As you encounter opportunities to add another activity to your schedule, consider seriously how it would affect your spiritual life and the spiritual life of your family. Will you be able to commune closer with Christ or will you be further burdened with more cares than you can handle, and lose the Lord’s voice in the loud clamor of distractions?
This is a guiding principle I try to follow in my life: the most focused walk with the Lord is the simplified walk. I will admit that I am not perfect at this, but I am daily reliant on the grace of God to pursue Him. And in that pursuit, I may find simplicity.