Tell me if you agree with this statement about life in our society: We’ve been taught that if one is good, two is better. If one dollar is good, two is better. If one nice car is good, two is better. If one house is good, another vacation home is better. If one wife is good, two is better. Okay, it breaks down a little with that last one. Did you know that there’s a main character in the Bible, King Solomon, who had hundreds of wives? One time a guy asked his seminary professor “Why did Solomon had so many wives?” The seminary professor answered, “So when he came home he could hopefully he could find one in a good mood.” Sorry about that; bad joke. I don’t think my wife is going to be in a very good mood when I come home after she’s read that joke, but I couldn’t resist. I better move on before I get into trouble.
If one is good, two is better. That’s how we’ve been taught to live in our culture. The only problem with this cultural principle is that it’s false. It just doesn’t always work out. I learned this important principle at one of my favorite breakfast haunts; The Potato Shack in Encinitas, California. My family loves the Potato Shack for several reasons: One, is the food is cheap and I’m cheap. Second, you can ask your waitress for a Mr. Potato Head to play with while you wait for your food. And third, they serve the greatest pancakes. What makes these pancakes so good is that they are enormous; I’m talking manhole-sized pancakes. They are so big you can cut them like a pizza and eat them by the slice. They are so big there is no way one person can finish a whole pancake.
One day I was on vacation in Encinitas with my two daughters and we decided to go to the Potato shack. When it came time to order we should have just ordered one pancake. It would have been plenty. But we thought if one is good, then two is better. So we ordered one chocolate chip pancake and one apple cinnamon pancake. And we ate and we ate and we ate and we ate. I don’t typically have a problem eating until I’m full or past full, but there is a difference between eating until you are full and eating until you are full of pancakes. Do you know what I’m talking about? That was a bad decision, but it wasn’t the worst decision I made that day. After we left the Potato shack I took the girls to a local park and they hopped on the playground equivalent of the Disneyland teacup ride. You know the one I’m talking about, right? The metal, spinny thing. And it wasn’t spinning fast enough for the girls by themselves so I just had to help them. Do I really need to tell you how this story ends? Do you want all the gory details? I didn’t think so. Two is not always better. Sometimes it’s actually better to have less.
How To Do Life For Dummies
I’d like to take a look at my favorite book for lifehacks. This book is filled with simple statements that if you follow them your life will just be better. You will find a better way to live and your relationships will be better. If you’ve visited this blog before or if you know me at all then you probably know which book I’m talking about. It’s the Bible. Now before you click back to Pinterest for your lifehacks, bear with me because I just want to talk about one verse today. I want to show you this verse because I think this verse is so profound it can radically change our lives and break us free from a culture of more. Read on and then if you think I’ve overstated this then I’d love to hear from you in the comments section.
“Better one handful with tranquillity than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind.”— Ecclesiastes 4:6
Am I right? How true is that? This simple verse describes the biggest problem in our culture and prescribes the cure. The Hebrew word “tranquility” used here means rest, quietness, a quiet attitude. It’s talking about a soul contentment. Tranquility isn’t the word I would use to describe most people I know; would you? But “toil and chasing after the wind”? Now you’re getting warmer. A one-handful life is better.
Why is A One-Handful Life Better?
Why is a one-handful life better? A one-handful life is better because when you are living a one-handful life you have your other hand free. When I’m not all busy running around with my stuff (i.e., “chasing after wind”) then I’ve got a hand free to help others.
When you are living a two-handful life, this is what your life is like:
Have you ever seen someone like this? How many of us are walking around life like this? Not just when we are bringing groceries in from the car, but all the time. When we walk around like this we can handle what we’re carrying most of the time; it’s not easy but we can manage it. But you know what we can’t do? We can’t help anyone else. We can’t help someone who’s fallen. We can’t get the door for someone else. We can’t feed the hungry or help someone find a job. We can’t even give our friend a hug. And according to my book of life hacks, the Bible, if I’m walking through my life like that I’m wasting my life.
I know those sound like strong words; “wasting your life.” The Bible has a way of saying it like it is, and in many different ways, especially about the important things. There are lots of places in the Bible where the message is that if you are chasing wealth or possessions or prestige then you are wasting your time; you are chasing after wind. You will never find contentment or tranquility if that’s what you are focused on. I promised that I would only highlight one Bible verse today so you are just going to have to trust me on this (but comment please if you’d like more Bible references; I’d be happy to oblige).
The euphoric feeling we get when we buy a new car may last a day or two but it wears off much faster than that new car smell. And how many times have you made a big purchase only to suffer from buyer’s remorse as soon as you walked out of the store? When Jesus came to earth he came to serve. To reach out. To comfort. To care. To make a difference. He calls us to live our lives in the same way. Not just to help others, but also because He knows that we will find the most satisfaction and peace when we focus more on others than on ourselves. When your life becomes all about you and your job and your career and your schedule and even just you and your family, then you’ve missed the point. You may regret buying that expensive pair of Italian designer shoes but has anyone ever regretted buying a hamburger for a homeless person on a street corner? I don’t think so.
Two Steps To A Better Life
Are you living a two handful life? Are you working for more and more and more? Are you wearing yourself out for more cars and nicer furniture and a better house or a fuller bank account or more accomplishments? Wouldn’t you rather have tranquility? Wouldn’t you rather have soul contentment? I know I would so how can we get that soul contentment that we are all looking for:
1) Cut Back and Turn Off
How do you that? By cutting back and turning off. First, if you are going to live a one handful life you need to cut back. For most people that means cutting back on spending and schedules.
Let’s start with spending. Better is one handful with tranquility, one handful with financial margin, than two handfuls with a financial noose around your neck. Better is one handful with money at the end of the month than two handfuls with fights and worry and financial fears. To get there some of you are going to have to cut back on your spending. You’re going to have to learn to need less. You’re going to have to learn that you don’t need the latest ipad, phone, car, clothes. That to get to tranquility you need to spend less.
You probably also have to do less. If I were to ask someone in our culture “How are you doing?” what is the most likely answer you will get: “I’m really (wait for it)…. busy.” Either that or “I’m really tired.” To live a one handful life some of you are going to have to ruthlessly cut back your schedule. You are going to have to give up some activities. Some may even sound like good activities. But to get to tranquility you need to let go of some things. You need to cut back.
You also need to turn off. There are a number of things that fit in this category. Television is one. It’s so easy to get sucked in by TV. It can take up our time without us even really knowing what’s going on. Let me ask you if this has ever happened to you. You get busy and your DVR is taping all of your shows. You have your favorites that you like to keep up on. Housewives of Atlanta, Trick my Truck, Toddlers and Tiaras. But you’re so busy you can’t get to them. So you finally schedule time to catch up on all your shows. As you do you feel like you’re getting something checked off your to do list. Okay, Biggest Loser, check, American Idol, check. We get to the place where TV is a to-do list item and the reality is we’d be better off if we just turned it off.
The computer: same thing. It’s so easy to get sucked in by work and emails and I’ll just check really quick, but that’s dangerous. You check an email and someone wrote something stupid so you have to respond, or you can’t get ahold of the person so you end up staying up all night worrying about it. You just need to turn it off and be present with the people you are with.
For me my biggest battle is with my phone. Just need to check this message. Just need to send out this text. Just need to make a quick response. Just need to check my ESPN app to get the Lakers score. Just need to see what movie rating The Hunger Games got. Just need to shoot some angry birds. My daughter thinks I’m addicted. She’s planning an intervention. And you know what, she’s right. My counselor challenged me to come home and put the phone in the back bedroom on the charger and just leave it. I asked him if that’s what he does and he said, “Well, that’s what I’m supposed to do, but I’m not very good at it.” We just need to turn it off. Turn off the TV. Turn off the computer. Turn off the phone. Just be present. Do I hear an amen.
To live a one handful life we need to cut back and turn off. So let me ask you. What do you need to cut back on. Is it your schedule? Is your spending out of control? What do you need to turn off?
To live a one handful life we need to let go of what doesn’t matter by cutting back and turning off. We also need to:
2) Fight for What Does Matter
Fight for what’s important. Fight like a man. Fight like a woman. You’re life is too valuable to waste on what doesn’t matter. Fight for what really does matter. Fight for your family. Fight for your marriage. Fight for your kids. And here’s a challenge. Go beyond your family. You might be thinking, “My family is good. I get time with my wife and kids. We’re fine.” Listen. Your family is not the only family that needs help. There are lots of families that need help. Our mission statement at Canyon Springs Church says, “It’s all about the one.” is not just our family. It’s about reaching out beyond our family so that other families can know Jesus and experience that blessing. It’s about living a one-handful life so that we have a hand free to help others.
Let me show you what that looks like for me. It happened when I was on a mission trip in Haiti. I hope you aren’t getting tired of my Haiti stories in this blog. I just can’t help talking about my experiences there because I am so excited about what God is doing in Haiti. It’s like seeing a great movie and then just having to tell everyone you know about it. That’s how I am about Haiti. So let me tell you about Joseph. Joseph is 33 years old. And he wants to get married. But he has to wait until he gets a job. Only problem is that there is a 70% unemployment rate in Haiti. For Joseph to find a job is nearly impossible. When Joseph told me his story and I watched him with I had this great moment of clarity. I need to help Joseph realize his dream. We’ve started to work on making the arrangements to get him a taxi cab. It’s called a tap tap.
I’m not saying this because I’m fundraising. We are going to make this happen. It what God is calling me to do and it feels incredible. If I live a two handful life and it’s all about me and my accomplishments and my money, I miss out on this chance. I overlook this opportunity. I would miss the chance to help someone out and feel that sense of satisfaction to make a difference.
I’m not just fighting for me and my family; I’m fighting for Joseph. What are you fighting for? What worthless junk do you need to drop so that you can fight for what’s important.
Live Better a Life with One Handful (More is not Always Better)
I’ve spent a lot of my life as a two-handful person. I’m gonna tell you right now, better is one handful with tranquility. Better one handful and a good marriage. Better one handful and children that you know. Better one handful and making a difference in life. Better one handful and intimate friends. Better one handful and a great relationship with God. Better one handful and influence. Better one handful and margin. Better one handful and love, than two handfuls with toil, stress, panic, greed, more and a chasing after the wind. Because it’s infinitely better to have less of what doesn’t matter and more of what does.
What does this look like for you? What do you need to cut back and turn off? What do you need to fight for?
“Better one handful with tranquillity than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind.”–Ecclesiastes 4:6
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