Craig Groeschel - When Less Is Better
Lemme just tell you honestly that this message has the potential to impact your life as much or more than any message we do this year. And I say that sincerely. It has the potential to impact your life as much or more. But at the same time, this message is gonna be one of the easiest ones for you to shake off and pretend like it's for the person sitting next to you just before warned. Now, last week we learned that we all tell lies and we discovered that the person that you lied to the most is who? Is you, right? We learned also that one of the biggest lies that we tell ourselves today I wanna talk about over and over and over again, we lie to ourselves and tell ourselves that more is better.
Whatever you have, if you have one, two is better. More is always better. And this reflects the lie that the serpent told Adam and Eve all the way back in Genesis, in the Garden of Eden, if you remember the story God created Adam and said, it's not good for you to be alone. He created Eve. Adam said, whoa man, call her woman. They were naked and in love and enjoying the garden. And God said, you can eat from any tree in the garden except for one. You can't eat from the one, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And the serpent came along and said, did God really say you can't eat from that one? Because if you eat from that one that he told you can't eat from, if you have what you he said you can't have, then you'll be like God. Essentially, the message from the serpent back then is the same message we hear over and over and over again today. That what you don't have is what you need to be happy, to be fulfilled and to be content.
Every marketing message, everything you see on social media, every time you turn the television on, what you don't have is what you need to be happy to be fulfilled and to be content. Why? Because more is always better. What do you need to be happy? You need more money, you need more toys, you need more shoes, more purses, more watches, more muscles. Come on somebody. You need more square footage, you need more travel, you need more likes, you need more followers, you need more hair unless we're talking about hair on your back and then you don't need more hair there. But you know what I'm talking about. In general, you need more, you need more, you need more because more is always better. And I would ask you the question, what if the stuff you have is keeping you from the life that you want? Today we're continuing the series Habits of the Heart and we're gonna talk about the habit of simplicity. And the title of today's message is "When Less is Better".
Father, we pray today that by the power of your Holy Spirit, that your living word would speak to us in such a way that we are transformed to stop believing the lie, embrace the truth, be changed by the truth. And we know that Jesus is the truth. So speak to us and change us today by His power. We pray this in Jesus' name and everybody said... Amen. Amen.
What I wanna do today is I wanna introduce to our key thought from a story in the Book of Acts. Acts chapter 27, I'll give you the context. Paul was on a ship and this ship was beaten down by a storm and the whole crew thought they were gonna die and they had gone a couple of weeks without eating and Paul finally broke bread and he gave thanks. And this is where we pick up the story in Acts chapter 27. We see in verse 36, "Then they were all encouraged and also took food for themselves". So after two weeks I'd be encouraged if I got a baloney sandwich too. And they were really in a good mood. Scripture says something really fast in here and I want you guys to help me out with this verse, those of you online as well. The Bible says, "So when they had eaten", what? Would you say the word aloud. "So when they had eaten" Enough. Enough.
Those of you online, go ahead and type this in the comment section, lemme spell it for you. If it's a word you've never heard before, if don't know how to spell it's enough. E-N-O-U-G-H. Let's say it again. We're learning a new word, the word is enough. So when they had eaten enough, what did they do? "They lightened the ship and they threw out the wheat into the sea". When they had enough, they got rid of what they didn't need, when they had enough. So just to be really clear, what is enough? If you're taking notes, you wanna write this down, enough is when you have what you need. I'll say it again and I'll say it really slowly 'cause I know this is a new concept. I'm trying to take this in myself. What is enough? Enough is when you have what you need. What do we call that? We call it enough, okay? So to practice the habit of simplifying, we're gonna learn a little phrase. It has three words and then we're gonna say it again and again and we're gonna ask God to help internalize it. Here it goes. The phrase is this. Say it with me. "I have enough".
Okay, let's all say it again, everybody. 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3. I have enough. I have enough. Those of you online, you can type that in the comment section. Type it by faith if you don't believe it, okay? Let's say it again. I have enough. Enough. And the reason I'm kind of poking fun at this is because we can kind of say we have enough, but the problem is there's almost nobody here that the way we live communicates that we believe that we have enough. The Lord is my shepherd and I have all that I need. The Lord is my shepherd. I have enough. And so if we wanna really live the habit of simplicity, I'm gonna give you a couple of prayers that we can pray. You can pray this in your life group, you can pray it in your own devotion time. But these, this is a game changing set of prayers. And we go like this. "God give me less of what doesn't matter and God give me more of what does matter".
You can type that in the comment section and let's all just say that aloud, "God, give me less of what doesn't matter. And God give me more of what does". Let's say it one more time, just make it even kind of prayerful if you can right now. "God, give me less of what doesn't matter and God give me more of what does matter". What if you prayed that consistently? What if you really desired that? It'd be very, very counter-cultural, but it would be very, very true to what Jesus teaches in the gospel. So let's start with the first part of the prayer. "God give me less of what doesn't matter. Gimme less of what doesn't matter". Jesus taught this principle in Matthew chapter six, and I'm gonna show you the words, but I just wanna pause as we go into 'em. And I want you to understand these are the words of Jesus.
Do not let it be just words on a page or words on the screen. These are the words of Jesus. And this is what Jesus taught us. This is his way and this is truth. Jesus taught us this. He said, "Don't store up treasures here on earth," which is exactly what is a life goal for most of us. More stuff, more stuff, more stuff. "Do not store up treasures here on earth where moths eat them and rust destroy them, and where thieves break in and steal". He goes on to say, but "Store your treasures in heaven where moths and rust cannot destroy and thieves do not break in and steal". Then Jesus says, and watch this. "Wherever your treasure is, they're the desires of your" what, "there the desires of your heart will be also".
Remember, we're talking about habits of the heart. If you wanna change your life, change your habits. But if you wanna change your habits, let God change your heart. And Jesus tells us, don't store up stuff that doesn't last. Don't accumulate more and don't hoard. But the reality is for most of us is almost a goal to accumulate. What do we want? We want bigger bank balances. Why? Because most of us, we put our security in money and not in God, right? I mean, that's what I do. That's why I want more. We want a new outfit. Why? Different reasons. But many people, they feel empty on the inside. So we need some external validation to make us feel better because we're empty on the inside. Or someone may want, I don't know, to remodel their kitchen for the third time in three years. Why? Maybe because their marriage isn't good and they don't want to face it. What does it mean to have less of what doesn't matter? If you want less of what doesn't matter, what do you do?
Scripture teaches us what to do. Hebrews 12:1 tells us this. The author of the Hebrews says, "Let us strip off every weight that slows us down and we do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus". Let's get rid of everything, every weight, every stuff, every part of our schedule, every distraction, everything that doesn't matter. Let's keep our eyes on Jesus. Let's strip off everything we don't need. Let's have enough and throw the rest overboard. Let's eliminate all of the stuff, the distractions that weighs us down and keep our eyes on Jesus. And I don't know what would weigh you down, but stuff has gotten in my way for years. I'm finally over it. What do we do in our world today? I mean, people have like a walk-in closet and a lot of part of the world's like your closet's bigger than some people's house. And you walk in your closet, there's clothes everywhere, you touch them all and you say, I've got nothing to wear.
How does that happen? And then you got so much stuff there that it doesn't fit in your closet. So you put it in your attic and then you put it in your closet. And some of you, you have so much stuff in your garage, in your closet and you don't have enough room for your stuff. So you rent an additional place to put your stuff. And Jesus says, don't accumulate stuff. And so for some of you, I believe the Holy Spirit could speak to you a very real message. Throw out as if your life depends on it because it does. What if the stuff you have is robbing you from the life you want? I mean real simple. If you haven't used it in the last year, give it away. You guys are looking at me like I'm talking about sin or something like, don't mess with my stuff pastor. Stand on my stuff. If you get one, a new one, give the old one. Whatever it is. Don't let stuff weigh you down.
For some of you it's your schedule. You are so busy, you don't have time for Jesus. You're here and there, you got more on your to-do list. For some of you, the most spiritual thing you could do is created to don't list Strip off everything, the stuff or the busyness. I mean, I dunno what it is and I don't wanna pick on anybody's thing, but you could cancel Netflix and maybe have quiet time or stop scrolling on whatever and maybe start learning the word or stop comparing and truly find contentment. Let us strip off everything that would hinder our relation. What are we gonna do? We're gonna, the only way we're gonna let go of it is if we keep our eyes on Jesus because he's so much better. God give me less of what doesn't matter. And God give me more of what does matter. God gimme more of what does matter?
I love Ecclesiastes 4 and I wanna look at it a few times. "Better one handful with" what? With tranquility or with peace "Than two handfuls with toil and a chasing after the wind". I wanna illustrate this for you. These are jelly beans. The reason they're jelly beans is because they're colorful. And I don't like jelly beans. If they're M&Ms, I'd probably eat 'em. But they're jelly beans. And this is gonna illustrate the verse better is what. Let's say, let's quote the verse together. Better is one handful with what? With tranquility, with peace, then two handfuls with a toil. And it's chasing after the wind. Let me show you what most of us look like. Most of us just aren't two handfuls. Most of us are... Right? But what does the word of God say? Better is a little less with room for the stuff that matters. Better is one handful.
Why is one handful better? Because you have a free hand. And if you have a free hand, what can you do to someone around you? You can hug someone and you can give to someone and you can encourage someone high five, knuckle bump pat on the backside flat hand, never cupped. Send the word of God. May God add the richest blessings to the reading of his word. Flat. Never cupped. You can praise God. You can give to God. You can surrender, if you have one handful. if you have two, what do you have? You have toil. Better is what? Better, when less is better, better, better. More is not better. Better is one handful without having to fix stuff all the time. Better is one handful without the debt that's weighing you down. Better is one handful than pursuing things that don't last when your marriage is struggling. Better is one handful and time with your kids, instead of pouring your life into things. Better is one handful.
So to have more of what does matter, what do we have to do? We would be really wise to define what does matter. And one of my assignments for you this week in your life group. And if you're not in a life group, I'm gonna say like how do you do it without a life group? I don't know about you, but I literally need people praying for me with me. I need people to stand together against the forces of darkness. I need the body of Christ. Their life group is just define what matters most. What does matter most? I have a friend I'm praying for the doctors gave him a few months to live. And when you realize if you only have a few months to live, all of a sudden you recognize what matters. His days are short, most likely. And I wanna remind you, your days are actually numbered as well. Meaning all of our lives are ticked away very, very fast. And if you recognize you only get one chance and your life is really, really short, then you start to become more clear about what matters most.
I would ask you in your life what really, really matters. And some of you would say, well, it's one handful. My relationship with God matters or my spouse matters. Or certainly my children matter. Some of you would say making a difference matters. I'm thankful a lot of you would say that my church matters to me and to this world. Some of you would say like ministry matters. Showing God's love matters. A lot of you would say, my sobriety matters. Some of you would say my loved ones knowing Christ, that really matters. What wouldn't be on any of your lists. If you recognize you only had a few days to live, what would not be on anyone's list is your leather sofa, right? No one would say, my apple watch matters. No one would say my new countertops. And no one would say my 65 inch flat screen TV. Because the closer you are to Jesus, the more you realize that the most meaningful things in life are not things.
Amy and I have six grown children. Where did the time go? Why do we have six kids? Because we were in love and we didn't know what caused it for years. And then when we figured out what caused it, we just weren't willing to give it up. So we had six kids and they're all grown now and many of 'em are here. And when I look back, the things that I remember are not things with them. I remember and I remember, I remember playing G Ball that stands for gross show balls, our own version. Most people call it kickball, but kickball is not nearly as cool as G Ball. And we played the escape game. We lock 'em up level five, and they try to get out. And if they don't get out by the count of 10, they get tickled level. Nobody in the history of ever has gotten outta level 10. It is impossible to get out of level 10. We had our own obstacle courses. We told dog fairy stories.
Now my grandkids hear dog fairy stories. You don't know what the dog fairy is. A dog fairy lives under the bed. There's a secret door, there is a dog fairy land underground and there are bad elves. Watch out for the bad elves. Don't leave the door open or the bad elves will get in the room. And then your three-year-old granddaughter will not sleep for a month. Don't let that happen. The most meaningful things were never the things. Amy, we've been married almost 33 years and it wasn't the new countertops or the new microwave or the new piece of jewelry. Man, it's the walks together and we've taken so many walks and just held hands. And then when I, when it looked like I was the number one person in the state of Oklahoma to get COVID, I was in Germany. Everybody thought I was the number one. We couldn't tell . Anybody we had to hide.
And then the news story got out and I must have FaceTimed her for like 27 hours a day and just, we just, I love you, I love you, I love you. I love you more. I love you more. I love you more. Kiss the screen, kiss the screen. I'm not gonna kiss the screen, kiss the screen. I love you, I love you, I love you, I love, and it was just, but this I remember, I will remember that as long as I live, I remember holding each other in times of loss. And it's just being together. As a pastor last weekend, Seeing 1,300 people say yes to the grace of Jesus. And my mind blowing when one, when one person, when one person recognizes that all the sins they've ever committed are forgiven by Jesus and God has to hold those against me and they're new in Christ. And then that same person forgives someone else as they've been forgiven.
And then that person becomes a giver and sees themselves as not someone who just goes to church, but they are the church and they're the light of this world. You go, that's what matters. Better, better. Like better, better is one handful with what matters, tranquility and peace than two handfuls at toil and chasing after the wind. God give me less of what doesn't matter. And God give me more of what does. God gimme less of what doesn't matter and more of what does. So let's say it again, our phrase, let's all say it again everybody, I have enough. One more time. I have enough. I have enough. Type it in the comment section, I have enough. I have enough. One more time. Just say it. I have enough. I have enough.
Now, most of you really do not believe that. And honestly, you probably shouldn't believe it because the statement that I gave you is actually incomplete. Because if you're just a regular person trying to get through and be happy, everything is gonna tell you you actually need more. You always need more. The statement is incomplete and I wanna help fill it in so you can say it and you can believe it. And the statement goes like this: because I have Jesus, I have enough. Now you can say it and you can believe it, but you can only say it and believe it if you truly have Jesus. So for those of you who are walking with him and intimate with him and have been changed by him, go ahead and say it like you believe it. Because I have Jesus I have enough. One more time. Because I have Jesus, I have enough.
The problem is some of you, you're gonna say, I have Jesus, but I want more. Like you've genuinely been saved. You've been baptized, you've been, you read your Bible. I have Jesus, but I still don't have enough. Some of you're gonna go, well, I really don't have enough. Like, legitimately like you don't know what my like, like forget the TV. I don't have a job or forget the Apple watch, I've got medical bills and I just wanna acknowledge there's are some of you that are hurting right now. But if you find yourself saying, I have Jesus, but I still don't have enough, let God's word speak to you very, very clearly. Paul talked about those who had a lot and he talked about those who had done, and he said this, he said, "I've learned the secret of being content in any and every situation..."
There is not a single situation that any of you listening to this message right now that this truth does not apply to. "In any and every situation, I've learned the secret of being content, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do this. I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength". Is Jesus that gives me contentment, is Jesus that gives me strength. Because I have Jesus, I have enough. When I'm well fed, I have Jesus. But if I'm hungry, I still have Jesus. If I have a bunch, I have Jesus. If I'm in want, I still have Jesus. And because I have Jesus, I have enough. Some of you say I have Jesus, but I still want more. Why? Because Jesus is in the background of your life. Because your life is so full of everything else, that there's not room for Jesus with all the other stuff.
Jesus is in the background right now. And when he is in the background, he's easy to miss. He's easy to ignore. He's easy to forget. But when he's in the front of your life, when you're seeking him first, when you're pursuing him, seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. And then everything that matters will be added unto you. Not more of what doesn't matter, less of what doesn't matter, more of what does. When you put Jesus in the forefront of your life. He's not a historical figure. He's not a Sunday school lesson. He's your closest friend. He, he is a counselor that guides your very steps. He is the bread of life that nourishes you. He's your confident, he is your comforter. And then when you put him first, something starts to change. And you understand what Paul said. It doesn't matter what I have or don't have, I have Jesus, therefore I have all that I need. I'm gonna try to tell you this and I hope you believe it.
And Amy would stand right by me in valance for this. This is the second time in my life and only the second time in my life where I can say, with integrity, I have enough. I have enough. Because I have Jesus, I have enough. This is the second time and only the second time. The first time was when I was a brand new Christian. I couldn't believe that God would forgive all the things that I had done. And when I embraced it and received it, I didn't care about anything in this world. Just open the door, let me preach, let me show up. Let me be a pastor, put us in the middle of nowhere. Small church. I don't care. Wherever, just let me talk about Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. I don't care about anything. And then life just kinda like started seeping back in, I got married to Amy and all of a sudden, like I wanted to give her nice stuff and I kinda liked the stuff too.
And all of a sudden I went back to wanting more, more, more and more. Just like before, I had Jesus but kind of put him a little bit aside 'cause I still wanted more comfort and I wanted more money and I wanted more security and I wanted more recognition or whatever it was. And then in the last year or so, I think finally like I'm 56 now. I think I've lived long enough that I've got fewer days in front of me than I do behind me. And I just needed Jesus more. I mean I needed him more. And so I call on him, calling him, calling him, calling him. And the more of him I got, the less of this other stuff that I wanted. And then I just started. I just like don't want it anymore. So I'm giving away so much stuff. I give it away, I give away. Amy goes in the garbage can go, "Don't give that away. Don't give that away".
I just, I wanna get rid of. I just don't care about the stuff. And the only way I had room for Jesus was to start getting rid of the stuff. Better is one handful. How much is a handful? That's enough. More than that of this is nasty. You would eat one of these things, you're like nasty. That's just nasty. This is enough. Better is one handful than two handful. To have room for Jesus, when they had enough, what'd they do? they threw it overboard. And then when they had enough, they had room for Jesus. And that's why I would tell you, I'm gonna, I think this thing through before I do it again. That was a good idea in my office. Is that's why this message has the potential to impact your life as much or more than any other. I'm gonna tell you right now, it will be the easiest to shake because better is one handful.
Lemme tell you some point, you get in a car accident, you don't want a pile of cash sitting next to you at that point. You want Jesus sitting next to you. You walk into a hospital room, an operating room. You don't want more followers. You want more of Jesus. When you send your kids into the world, you don't want just name brand shoes on their feet. You want Jesus in their hearts is what you want. And it is really hard. Most of you're way younger than I am. It's really hard when you're that age to realize one day your life's gonna come to an end. But when your life does come to an end, you're not gonna care where you traveled last year. You're gonna care where you're going for eternity.
And that's why Paul said, "I've learned the secret of being content. I can do all things through Christ, through Christ. He's everything. Because I have Jesus, I have enough. If I'm sick, he is my healer. If I'm hurting, he is my comforter. If I'm sad and sometimes I am, he's my joy. And if I sin, to the glory of God, he is my savior". This is the habit of the heart, the habit of simplifying. God, give me less of what doesn't matter. And God give me more of what does. Why? Because your life is too valuable and you're calling too great to waste your life on things that don't last. Because I have Jesus. Say it with me. "I have enough. Because I have Jesus, I have enough".
Father, we pray that by the power of your Holy Spirit, you would do a work in a way that only you could do.
As you're praying today, church is all over. Nobody looking around. Those who say, it may take faith to pray, gimme less of what doesn't matter, more of what does. Would you lift up your hands right now? Type it in the comments section. Give me less of what doesn't matter, more of what does. Lift up your hands. If that's your prayer today, you might just leave them up for a moment. Hey, if you got one handful of jelly beans, you got another one to lift up. So go ahead and lift it up just as a moment of worship.
God, we need your help with this. God, give us the courage, the faith to obey the words of Jesus. Not to store up things that don't last, but to invest our lives in the things that do. God, let us fix eyes on you and throw off everything that would hinder so we could know you and make you known. God give us less, less of what doesn't matter and more of what does because we have you. You are enough.
As you keep praying today, nobody looking around. There are a lot of you. You spent your whole life looking for something. You thought you'd find it more money, you didn't find it there. Better job, didn't find it there. Some person, couldn't find it there. Better experience, couldn't find it there. What are you doing? You're searching for something that you will not find in this world. You are not of this world. You're created by God, for God to know God. You have an eternal void inside to what happened. We've all sinned. That's what Adam and Eve did in the garden. They sinned against God. Our sin separates us from God. And so if we believe the lie and more is always better, pursue the things of this world, we're gonna end up getting lost. You cannot love God and love this world. We have to let go of this world.
How do we let go of the world? We grab onto Jesus? Who is Jesus? He is the son of God, perfect in every way. He was without sin. He died on a cross. God raised him from the dead so that anyone, and this includes you who calls on his name, your sins would be forgiven and you would be made brand new. You may have to let go of something in this world to grab ahold of Jesus. Let go of your sin. Step away from your sin. Step away from whatever you're holding onto. Let go of whatever's holding you back. And by faith, say Jesus, you be enough. How are you made right with God? Not by your good works. It's only by His grace through faith in Jesus that he is enough.
Wherever you're watching from today, you say, "I need his forgiveness. I want his life." He came to give you abundant life. "I need His grace today. I step away from my old life. I surrender to him." That's your prayer. You need his forgiveness. You're ready to give your life to him. Let go of whatever holds you back and say, "yes, Jesus, I give my life to you". That's your prayer today.
Lift your hands high right now, all over the place and say yes, right back there. Praise God for you. Others today say, "that's my prayer. Jesus", lift your hands up and say right back over here. Praise God for you. Others, you say, "Jesus, I need your grace". Right over here. Oh yes, praise God. And right over here as well. Both of you, ma'am, glory to God. Others today say, "Jesus, I need you" online. Type in the comment section. "I'm surrendering my life to Jesus". Wherever you are, would you pray aloud pray:
Heavenly Father, I surrender to you, Surrender to you. Forgive all of my sins. Jesus, be my savior. The Lord of my life, my friend, my comforter, my guide, be truth. Thank you for your forgiveness. Give me less of what doesn't matter. Give me more of what does. Thank you for new life. I surrender mine to you. In Jesus' name I pray.