Crossing the floor of my younger son’s bedroom sometimes feels like navigating my way through a bed of nails. When he is deep into his creative mode, colorful plastic Legos with hard edges and sharp corners cover his carpet. He can sit for hours surrounded by a pile of his favorite building materials. Vehicles, skyscrapers, spaceships and mini figures have overtaken much of the real estate on his bedroom floor. Although I often point out that he has more than enough, requests for new Lego sets regularly appear on his birthday and Christmas wish lists. He sighs at my lack of understanding when I use words like “gluttony” or “hoarding” to describe his obsession with Legos. It’s a good-natured disagreement over a fairly minor issue. He thinks he needs more and I think he has more than he needs.
It turns out the Bible has quite a bit to say about the concept of “more” but the issues have much higher stakes. Sometimes abundance is positive, as we see when Paul, Silas and Timothy urge the Thessalonians to please God and to love one another more and more:
“As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more… Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. And in fact, you do love all of God’s family throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more.” (1 Thessalonians 4:1,9-10, NIV, bold print added)
There are other times, however, when Scripture shows “more” as not necessarily positive:
-Hatred: “Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more.” (Genesis 37:5, NIV, bold print added)
-Corruption: “But when the judge died, the people returned to ways even more corrupt than those of their ancestors, following other gods and serving and worshiping them. They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways. (Judges 2:19, NIV, bold print added)
-Fear: “Saul became still more afraid of him, and he remained his enemy the rest of his days.” (1 Samuel 18:29, NIV, bold print added)
-Sinful Behavior: “Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.” (Ephesians 4:19, NIV, bold print added)
Beth Moore explains the tension between positive and negative abundance in our lives: “Something is going to grow. Something will get ‘more’ of us. Will it be hatred? Coldness? Addiction? Sensuality? Perversion? Devotion? Affection? Belief? Blessing? Ask yourself this question as I do the same: knowing the propensity of things to grow, which way do I want to go? ‘More and more’ one direction will force its antithesis into ‘less and less.’ We get to decide which we want to feed and which we want to starve.” (Children of the Day, p. 93)
Sometimes it’s wise and healthy to take a step back and evaluate the things in our lives that are influencing us “more and more.” Use the questions below to consider how each area impacts what grows “more and more” in our lives:
The company we keep:
-Are our typical activities and topics of conversation honoring to God?
-Does alcohol play a prominent role in our times together and would we still have fun without it?
-How are our personal attitudes and outlooks affected after spending time together?
-Are our worldly friends rubbing off on us more or is our Christian faith rubbing off on them more?
The social and extracurricular activities in which our families participate:
-How do they impact our schedules and ability to have healthy time margins?
-Does involvement in them still make it possible to go to church and be involved in Christian community?
-Are they defining our self-worth or our children’s self-worth?
-Are they bringing out the best in our families or making us more prone to comparison and unhealthy competition?
The entertainment we enjoy:
-Do the movies, TV shows, magazines, books, websites, social media, blogs, games and other past times we like influence us more toward worldly viewpoints or godly ones?
-Do we make time for entertainment, but struggle to find time to spend with God daily?
The material things we acquire:
-Do we talk about, look at and shop for material things continually?
-Are there any material things that have captured our attention and become the central focus of our lives?
-Are we willing to make needed changes when we recognize that material objects are mattering to us “more and more”?
The personal comfort we crave:
-Do we spend a significant amount of time arranging for and focusing on our own personal comfort?
-Is an emphasis on our physical, emotional and relational comfort causing us to become self-centered?
-Is being comfortable more important than letting God stretch us in new ways?
Finding a healthy balance with these things is a lifelong endeavor that requires constant prayer and vigilance. Not all of these issues have black and white answers–just like my son’s view on the quantity of his Legos differs from mine. The Bible is one of the best places to find clear answers. Determining if you have more of something than you should is between you and God.
If you’re feeling convicted after reading through the questions and consulting Scripture, do not be discouraged. This is a great step toward healthy growth and shows that you have a teachable heart. God is ready and waiting to help you when you admit your struggle to Him. In addition to praying, you may need to ask for help from a wise friend, counselor or pastor. There is no need for guilt or personal condemnation. God’s Word promises us: “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning.” (Lamentations 3:22-23a, NIV)
The good news is that there are things that we can pursue “more and more” without worrying about negative effects:
The Bible: The more we study it, the more we can be amazed by how God’s truth is woven together from start to finish. The more we learn, the hungrier we become to know more.
Prayer: The more we lay at the feet of God, the more we see Him working in our lives. This leads to more trust in God and more peace in all circumstances.
Jesus: The more time we spend with Him, the more He reveals Himself to us and the deeper our relationship with Him grows.
The Holy Spirit: The more we ask Him to fill us, the more He gives us wisdom and enables us to impact the lives of others.
Christian Music: The more we listen to Christian music, the more we’re drawn to the heart of God and to seeing the world through a biblical lens.
A Godly Perspective on our Time and Finances: The more we see our time and money as belonging to God, the more willing we are to put aside our personal agendas in order to pursue Him, give generously and serve others to further His kingdom.
For more inspiration, click on the link to hear Colton Dixon’s song “More of You.” Make it your prayer as you listen.
(quote from Moore, Beth; Children of the Day; 2014; Lifeway Press; http://www.lifeway.com)