We’re continuing with my daily series about minimalism in the life and teachings of Jesus. Today’s passage is once again taken from Jesus’ great ‘Sermon on the Mount' found in the book of Matthew. It’s a short and simple message:.
"Do not swear an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth…and do not swear an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No.’” (5:34-37)
Do you know someone who’s word is no good? They’re always like, “I swear I’ll do it… I swear I’ll be there… I swear on my mother’s grave… I swear to God! I promise!” and then, surprise! They don’t get the job done. They don’t show up. They break their promise. Then they text you (they never call) a flurry of apologies, “I’ll make it up to you… I swear!”
I know too many people like this. Jesus says, don’t make promises. In fact, in multiple places in Scripture it tells us to avoid making promises if we can. Ecclesiastes 5:4-5 says, “It’s better to not make a vow than to make a vow and not deliver." Numbers 23:19 says, “God is not like man, when he says he’ll do it, he does it.”
I've said before that I really like Joshua Fields Millburn's definition of minimalism. A minimalist is someone who is interested in living a “well-edited, carefully curated” life. His partner in crime, Ryan Nicodemus said, "Minimalism is not just a well-curated home: minimalism is a well-curated life.” Leo Babauta said, "Minimalism is a way of eschewing the non-essential in order to focus on what’s truly important." Eschewing the non-essential? That's curating.
In church and religious circles we throw around the word 'intentional' a lot. I want to hijack that word and use it as a synonym for "well-edited, well-curated." The minimalist is someone who lives intentionally. Joshua Becker said minimalism is, "an intentional journey to own less stuff" that lead to, "more money, more time, more energy, more freedom, less stress, and more opportunity to pursue our greatest passions."
Intentionality is forethought and planning, discipline and direction, and consistency in execution. The intentional person isn’t swept away by his or her desire for more, isn’t under the influence of fake friends, isn’t listening to the primary message of the advertising world: You’re not enough.
Intentional men and women are content, or strive to be. They recognize the value of experiences over possessions, they don’t get themselves deeply into debt, they cultivate loving relationships, they make peace in their homes among family, and lastly, they honor their word.
And like Jesus implored us to keep our word, an intentional person’s ‘Yes’ means ‘yes’ and his or her ‘No’ truly means ‘no.’ You can trust that an intentional man will do what he says he'll do.
The more I read and study after minimalists like Joshua Becker, Leo Babauta, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, Colin Wright, Tammy Strobel, Courtney Carver, and so many others, the less I find that their primary interest is the downsizing and minimizing of their things, and the more I find that their primary motivation is to be intentional. A previous generation might have just called that ‘wisdom.’