Stressed? Overwhelmed? Too Busy? Do these thoughts resonate with you? The American Institute of Stress shared in 2014 that over 70% of Americans demonstrate physical and psychological symptoms associated with stress. The daily demands of our society place this unwanted stress on our bodies and mind. However, it is my understanding that we choose to allow this to happen more often than not. We succumb to this thinking, “If I am not doing, if I am not active, then I am failing.”
Christ offers a different pattern for living. A steadfast faith in the daily provision of our bread from God (Proverbs 30:8; Isaiah 33:16; Matthew 6:11; Luke 11:13). Our extravagant lifestyles show how little we daily seek God and hope in the future reality that He promised. Scripture speaks of the simple life believers are to follow. Moderation, temperance, are just a few words we find in Scripture but all speak to the need to pursue a simple life. This pursuit includes the use of our time, spending money, eating and drinking, and other areas.
Proverbs 20:13, “Love not sleep, lest thou come to poverty; open thine eyes, and thou shalt be satisfied with bread.”
Proverbs 25:16, “Hast thou found honey? eat so much as is sufficient for thee, lest thou be filled therewith, and vomit it.”
Matthew 16:24-27, “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.”
Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”
Galatians 6:9, “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”
Philippians 4:5, “Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.”
Hebrews 13:5-8, “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me. Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation. Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.”
2 Peter 1:5-6, “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;”
Perhaps the strongest Christian teaching is the observation of the Sabbath. Jesus taught that the Sabbath was made for man and not the other way around (Mark 2:27). We were created a certain way, and God has provided for our natural rhythm. God knows we need rest, but one of the first things we throw out of the window is the proper use of time. When we fail to steward our time, we over-exert or waste our time.
When a person takes a Sabbath, they do recharge but it not becoming lazy. It is an act of faith. For example, in the exodus of the Hebrews from Egypt, God told them to gather manna each day but only enough for that day. Five days they would do this, and if they gather more, it would rot. On the sixth day, they could collect two days worth of food. However, instead of rotting, the extra would keep over to the Sabbath day. They did not have to gather on the Sabbath because God provided. When we stop and say no, we are also saying, “Yes, Lord, I know you can provide rest and anything I lack.”
No, not margarine (imitation butter), but margin. Like the spaces on the edges of lined paper that keeps your document neat and clean. It basically means a reserved space. Most of us, are stressed because we are not only pushed to the max, we have passed the limits our time, money, energy, and relationships. To live simply, one needs to recognize their limits, and then create a margin between being productive and those limits.
Instead of always planning to be on time and usually running late, plan on being early. You never know when an accident or detour will occur. Instead of spending everything you have, save for that rainy day. Make room for a literal Sabbath to rest in God’s provision. There are so many ways to create margin in our life and prevent yourself a lot of unwanted stress.