How Much Is Enough?

“There are two ways to get enough. One is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less.” -GK Chesterton

Enough can be a very elusive proposition.  Enough is like running in a race and you are on the last leg of your run.  You can see the finish line coming up, but you never seem to cross it.  It seems like just when you get close to it someone moves it a little further away.  This can be the case with “enough.”

If you live in America, you understand the desire for accumulation.  Often we live in houses packed with things that we don’t use but are unwilling to part with.  We have garages that cannot house our vehicles because they are stacked to the ceiling with things that won’t fit in our house.  We keep clothes in our closet that do not fit or are out of style because we have an emotional attachment to them.  We keep wanting the newest and the next best and the fastest and product marketers are all too happy to convince us that we need these things.

I once was volunteering in a local ministry’s thrift store and a lady came in and bought a couch.  Later that day her husband came to pick it up and his comment made me laugh.  It seemed that he didn’t really think that they needed another couch in their house because this would be their seventh.  His words to me as we loaded it onto his truck were, “I don’t know why she needs another couch, she only has one rear end to sit on!”

So the question is, how much is enough?

I like the Chesterton quote above, but as I study it closer two things come to mind.  The first part of the quote deals with an action, the second part of the quote deals with an attitude.  We like actions (accumulate more and more) because they show progress and make us feel good.  Attitude (desire less) is a different matter.  It is much more difficult to change our attitude because it is an internal change and we can’t really see the change happening.

1 Timothy 6:17 speaks about the moving target of enough and how wealth can come and go:

Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God,who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.

Even if you don’t consider yourself rich, you can still be caught up by the trap to put your hope in wealth instead of the Lord.  The fact is that wealth is elusive and fleeting.  It can be gone in an instant.  If you think about the things that bring us the most enjoyment, the aren’t things at all.  They are relationships, experiences, and memories.  They are usually simple things that don’t require much in the way of wealth. 

I wrote a post about the fact that “God cannot pour his riches into hands already full.”  You can read it here.

It seems like a contradiction, but the paradox is this: sometimes to have “enough” what we really have to do is simply let go.

Father, help me to remember that when I have you, I have enough.  Help me to keep my priorities straight and to focus on accumulating the things that matter, not the things that will not last.  Thank you Jesus that you are enough for me.