Robert Morris - The Secret of Simplicity
All right, so we are in a series called Simplify. And if you think about it, simplify comes from the word simple. Now, if I asked you to describe your life, many of you would not use the word simple. As a matter of fact, you would use the antonym of the word, which is complicated or busy or hectic. And that's the way it is. I, though, am a simple person. God allows me to take complicated theological issues and make them simple. And you think I do this great job teaching, but the reason I do it is because I can't understand it unless I make it simple. So, I have to make it simple for me. The number one comment I hear when I'm out, and I get to meet people is they will say to me, "Our children like to listen to you".
Well, it's because we're on the same level. So, I'm just a simple guy. I can only do one thing at once. My wife knows that. If I'm doing something, I can just do one thing. Literally. A few months ago when my daughter Elaine was here, we were going over her message and her phone went off. She picked it up, and she was talking. She said, "And then I'm going to go to Matthew and then I'm going to be talking. When I'm in Matthew, I'll be talking". I don't know if they have a thumb-teaching class to be able to text that fast. Unbelievable. And she's telling me she's, "Matthew", and then she puts her phone back down. A little while later, she said, "And then I'll be over in Luke 2". And phone went off, and so, she did this again. I said, "Well, what did you just do"? She said, "Well, I had one text that they were wondering how many communion cups to order for this weekend. And then I had another text about we need to order some more baptismal robes. And I told them how many to do that".
She can do like 107 things at once. I can't do that. When I was growing up, it was just one thing at once. I mean, that's just for me, that's just kind of the way I was. I remember trying to juggle, and I couldn't do it. I did learn how to juggle one ball, and so I could just juggle that one ball unless a bird flew by, and I got distracted. I did do something that I thought, this is kind of interesting, when I think about one, that I could only do one thing at work once. I learned how to ride a unicycle. It has one tire. So, I don't know. That's just the way I am. Okay? But here we're told in Scripture to simplify our lives, and we're told what the Apostle Paul was afraid of, his fear.
And I read it to you out of another version, New American Standard, last week. I'm going to read out New King James this week, 2 Corinthians 11:3. "But I fear", I fear. This is Paul speaking, "lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve", and we talked about how did he do it last weekend, "by his craftiness [his sophisticated trickery], so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ". The simplicity. And last week, New American said, the simplicity of devotion. So, we talked about the enemy of devotion. So, we're going to talk this week about The Secret of Simplicity. All right? And even in the first point, I'm going to give it to you, but then we're just going to get simpler and simpler through the message. All right?
So, here's number one. The secret of simplicity is love. That's why he said the simplicity of devotion to Christ. The secret of simplicity is love. Now, there are 1189 chapters in the Bible, 31,103 verses in the Bible, and around 800,000 words in the Bible, about 620,000 in the Old Testament, and about 180 something, maybe 189,000. I'd have to go back and count. But anyway, in the New Testament, but about 800,000 words. 800,000 words. And Jesus boiled the whole Bible down to one word, and I'll show it to you. All right? Matthew 22. "But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question", that's the last person you want asking you a question except Jesus, He can handle it, "testing Him, and saying, 'Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law'"?
Now, I know many of you, I know the Ten Commandments, but there were 613 commandments in the law. So, there are the Ten Commandments, but there are 613 commandments. "Jesus said to him, 'You shall love...'" Love. He boils the whole Bible down to one word. "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind'. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: 'you shall...'", you want to just say that out loud? "'...love your neighbor as yourself'. On these two commandments". This is one of the most amazing verses in the Bible, Matthew 22:40, spoken by Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, the Word of God Himself. "On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets".
Now, it's important to understand that the Law refers to the first five books of the Old Testament, and the Prophets refer to the other books, the major and minor prophets, and then some would say called the Psalms. Put that in another category, and that's fine. But that's the way they referred to the Bible, "the Law and the Prophets". And I don't think we think about this, but when Jesus was talking right then and when the Epistles were being written, just stay with me on this, all right? Remember I told you that I'm kind of well-known for making simple statements that are smart? They didn't have the New Testament. They were the New Testament. So, every time Jesus quotes the Scriptures, He's quoting the Old Testament. Every time. Every time Paul quotes the Scripture, when he says, as the Scripture says, as the Scripture says, as the Scripture says, he's quoting the Old.
Now, I believe in the inspiration of the New Testament. I believe the whole Bible is inspired. I believe that, Old and New, obviously. I'm just simply saying that Jesus at that time is saying, you can sum up the whole Bible, because that's the only Bible they had when He made that statement. You can sum it all up with just these two commandments: love God and love people. Which, that would be one word: love. love God and love people. The Ten Commandments I've told you before, divided into two categories. The first four have to do with loving God. The last six have to do with loving people. Summed up in those two commandments: love God and love people.
See, Satan's goal is to get us focused on doing rather than being. And I would like to remind you that you are not a human doing. You're a human being. You say, "So, what does that mean"? Because He said, you shall love the Lord God, and you shall love your neighbors yourself. The reason I'm saying that is because you can't do that without Christ. But you can be that. The fruit of the Spirit is love. Now, love, joy, peace, okay, long suffering, goodness, meekness, temperance, faith, self-control, all that, okay? But the fruit of the Spirit, listen, it doesn't say the fruit of Robert. Robert's just the tree. I don't produce love. God produces love. So, when I'm telling you this, I'm not telling you something you need to do. I'm telling you someone you need to know. His name is Jesus, and He is love. And we are so busy today.
This is what Paul said. I'm eaten up with this, that Paul said, "I'm afraid of one thing, that you get away from the simplicity of devotion to Christ. And you know who's going to try to get you away from it? Satan is. He's going to do it the same way he did it with Eve"? Think about it today. I mean, first of all, if you have a job, your life's complicated. If you're married, it's more complicated. If you have children, you're done. I mean, you've got soccer and football and dance, volleyball and ballet and piano. And that's just one week, and sometimes just one day. And if you have five or six kids, I have no clue how you do it. Everybody's got to go somewhere. Your job, though, is not to be a chauffeur, even though you think it is at this time. Your job is just to love God and love others. That's it. It's just summed up. It's so cool.
So, I said, the secret of simplicity is love, but I'm going to keep boiling it down. You say, "Okay, the secret of simplicity is love. So, what's the secret of love"? So, point 2 is, the secret of love is commitment. That's the secret of love. If you want to love God, you stay committed. Matter of fact, Jesus even said, "if you love Me, keep My commandments". You know what He was saying? Stay committed. "If you love Me, be committed". So, the secret of love is commitment. And yet all the movies that we see focus on falling in love, and then you can fall out of love. As a matter of fact, I can tell you every romance comedy, every love story, the plot is they fall in love, they fall out of love, then they fall back in love. I mean, that's what's going to happen.
So, I can sleep during the middle of them because I know what's going to happen. But all Hollywood is doing is describing the feelings that you have when you begin to make a commitment to someone. That's what falling in love is. Someone asks you to come to a function at church with them, Okay. So, we're going to keep this on the up and up. We're not going to go dancing or anything else right now, all right? They ask you to go to a function at church, and so you go. You make a commitment to go, and you spend some time talking to them. And they have similar interests, similar likes. They have good character. And so, then, as you go to another function at church where just everything's going to be at church. All these dates, okay, they're all at church.
So, you make another commitment, you commit. And what happens is, the more you commit, the more you love. You follow me? And then when you get married, you just make another commitment, and you fall more in love. You need to know, by the way, devote. We talked last week, he said, the simplicity of devotion to Christ. Now, I can figure out the meanings of just about any word simply by going to the root word. And a lot of people just don't do this. I don't know why. I think it's like the most simplest thing in the world to do. Like simplicity; tahe word would be simple. Okay? But devote. Do you know what the root of devote is? Vote. That's the root. But people don't even know what vote means. I'm telling you, y'all go vote. And we don't know what it means.
You know what vote means? It means vow. It comes from a Latin word, votum. Votum, I think is the way they say it. Votum. It just means vow. You see, when you vote for a referendum or a candidate, you're vowing to support that candidate or that referendum. It's a vow. So, here's what he's saying. I'm afraid that the serpent's going to deceive you, and you get away from being simply committed to Jesus Christ. You made a vow. I just want you to keep that vow. But by the way, that's the reason that they put vows in wedding ceremonies, because they discovered a long time ago that the only way you'd ever stay in love is if you kept a commitment. And you probably never even thought about it, but the vows are not that romantic. Basically, you say, I promise to stay committed to you if you get sick, poor, and make my life worse. Aren't those the vows?
"Sickness and in health, richer or poorer, better or worse". I was counseling with a couple one time, and I said, "So let me get this straight. You feel like since you've been married, your life has become worse"? He said, "Yeah". I said, "That's what you signed up for". I think this is the reason people say to me now, "We'd like to write our own vows". I was counseling with a young man in the church when the church was really small, about a hundred people probably. And his fiance had broken up with him. And so, he's heartbroken.
And so, he, and I were talking. I was meeting with him, and I said to him, "Hey, this is the best thing could have ever happened to you". And he said, "Well, what do you mean"? I said, "Well, she doesn't love you because if she loved you, she would have stayed committed to you. And what's great is that you love her. You were committed to her". But I said, "How long have you all been dating"? He said, "About a year". I said, "This is wonderful". I said, "What if you'd been married for ten or 20? Your love would have grown because your commitment would have grown and your heart would have been more broken". And let me give you better news, because many people have gone through something like this. But please let me give you really good news. The bad news is it takes two people to make a marriage work. But the good news is Jesus came to heal the broken-hearted.
So, if you've had your heart broken, He can heal your broken heart. And so, I told him, I said, "Listen, it just means God has someone good for you that's going to be committed to you". And so, the next week, we got together again to meet, and he said, "God spoke to me, just like what you said, basically". He said, "I was sitting in church, and during worship," he said, "I was just worshipping God". He said, "I looked over, and I saw this older couple in our church. And he had his left hand up, she had her right hand up, and in the middle, they were holding hands". And he said, "The Lord said to me, that's what I want for you. And I've got someone just like that picked out for you that you're going to be able to grow old with". And so, I thought, "See, that's wonderful". And then I thought about it.
So, we were only about, like, 100 people again, remember. We only had one older couple in our church, and we had just started the church. I was 38 when I started the church. So, I'm like 39 years old, maybe 40 at that time. And so, I said to him, because I knew this old this couple, they were in their 70s. They were the only people we had over 70. So, I said, "Hey, was it this couple"? Because everybody knew everybody, you know. We were like a big life group when we started, you know. So, I said, "So, was it this couple that you saw when you said you saw an older couple"? He said, "Oh, not that old. I mean, someone your age". So, I kicked him out of the church. But anyway. No, you know what's funny is now he's in his 40s. So, you're old. So, there's this love story in the Bible, and let me just, it's between a man named Boaz and a woman named Ruth. The book's named, Ruth.
Okay, so it's easy to remember, but Boaz falls in love with her. Like we say, he fell in love. But do you know why? Because he tells her why. She asks him, "Why are you even taking notice of me"? Let me show you the answer, Ruth 2:10. "So she fell on her face, bowed down to the ground, and said to him, 'Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner'? And Boaz answered and said to her, 'It has been fully reported to me, all that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband'". Okay, here's what he was saying. He was saying, "You're a woman of commitment, and that's the kind of person I want to be married to. I want to be married to someone that I can commit my life to and that will commit her life to me. And I have heard, it's been fully reported to me that you made a commitment to your mother-in-law".
As a matter of fact, did you know that her commitment to her mother-in-law, she marries this man, and then he dies. And so, Naomi then says to her, "Just go back to your own country now". And she says, "No". And she says this: "Wherever you go, I'll go. Your people will be my people. Your god will be my God". And then this is what she says, "Till death do us part". And that got in the wedding vows. She was basically saying, "I'm committed to you". Boaz is looking for a wife, and he says, "You know what I want? I want someone committed. I want someone who's committed".
So, I got saved nine months after Debbie and I got married, but I started trying to get my life right with God when I was 16. And so, the guy that helped me start getting my life right with God was actually James Robison's best man in his wedding. And he's the one that introduced Debbie and me to James and Betty before we even got married. But he saw this gift in me, so he was helping, trying to get me to get right with God. And he was mentoring me, and he said, "You need to start", I remember him thinking, "How do I say this"? He said, "You need to date some better girls". And I thought, "The girls I'm dating are pretty good". Because I was lost. You've got to remember I was lost. Okay? I was lost. And he said, "No, I mean, you need to date a good girl. You need to date a girl you want to be married to".
And so, I remember looking around the church, and there were good girls, and Debbie was one of them, and she was the most beautiful one there, obviously, of all the good girls. And so, I asked her out for a date. And 15-20 years after we'd been married, I remember asking Edra, because I didn't have a reputation as being a good boy. And I said to Edra, her mom, I said, "Why in the world did you let your daughter ever go out with me"? And this is what she said. See, my mother's mother grew up, I mean, she lived in our home when I was growing up. We took her in. And she said, "This is why. Because during choir practice, when your mother and I were in choir, your father would bring your mother's mother, his mother-in-law, in and set her down and hold her hand and make sure she was seated and take care of her.
And then he would go do his things. He did all sorts of things in the church, helping run the sound and being a deacon and all these different things. And then he would come and get her afterwards and take her". She said, "I watched your father, and I thought, there's got to be something way down deep that's good in him". But here's what she did. She actually saw how my father treated his mother-in-law, and I think she thought, "Maybe he'll treat me good". Okay, so anyway. Hopefully, I am treating you good. Okay. All right. So, the secret of simplicity is love. The secret of love is commitment. So, what's the secret of commitment? Here's point number three. The secret of commitment is choice.
Now, this is extremely important, and I want to get a little theological on you. One of the number one theological questions that pastors are asked is why did God even put the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden? As if God had done something wrong, and as if God was setting them up for failure, kind of judging God. And it's exactly opposite again. Same reason I talked last week why He drove them out once they ate from it because they were in a fallen state. He didn't want them to live forever in that fallen state.
So, why did he even put two trees in the midst of the garden, the tree of life and the tree of death, in essence. why did He do that? Here's why. Because you can't have love if you don't have choice. Robots can't love. God didn't want robots. He could have created you without a will and without a choice. But He wanted you to know love. If you didn't have a choice, you wouldn't know love. You wouldn't know what it's like to be loved or to be loved or to love someone else. You wouldn't know. You would never know. You have to have choice to have love. You have to get this. So, what we're talking about here is to be, simplify your life, and I'm getting it down just very simply for you. Here's how you simplify your life. You just choose to love God. And when you choose to love Him, then you're going to commit to Him. And when you commit to Him, then your life's going to be simplified. It's that simple. It's that simple.
Again, I talked about Debbie, and we got married, I was 18 when we got married. And so, it was after my freshman year of college. I graduated high school when I was 17, and we dated our junior, senior year of high school and then freshman year of college, and then we got married. So, I was 18 years old. But not long after we got married, then we moved to Dallas, and I started meeting people. We started meeting people our age, of course (19, 20, 21, 22) that they weren't married yet. And we started meeting some more successful people. And all of a sudden, this insecurity came out in me because we were meeting these men who were smarter than I, more talented, more gifted, better looking, richer, better jobs.
And I remember thinking, I know Debbie chose me. We grew up in a smaller town. I know she chose me then, but there were only three choices, and the other two didn't have jobs. But now she's meeting better looking, nicer, kinder. I wasn't kind. I was still growing in my relationship with the Lord. I didn't have kindness. I didn't have the fruits of the Spirit, and I wasn't successful. And I just thought, she's meeting these men. She's going to figure out that she's got other choices. And it scared me to death. And we were talking one time because I was so jealous if she talked, if she just, if another man was just saying, if they were just having a conversation across the room at a get together or something, I'm saying, "What was he talking to you about"? And she just had to say to me, "You have to understand, I love you. I love you".
Now, here's why she loved me, because she chose to make a commitment to me. You follow me? And I still didn't understand it then. I've had to grow in that and to finally figure out, I know she loves me, because she's made thousands of choices over the years to stay committed. You have to catch this. 1 John 2:15 says, "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him". Okay? Why would he say, "Don't love the world," if love isn't a choice? See, this thing about, "I just fell in love with him". Yeah.
Let me ask you this. Anyone here, anyone ever made an impulse purchase? Okay, yeah. All of you. And this is what we say, "I just fell in love with it". No, you didn't. You made a commitment to it. And now you owe Visa more money than you can pay because you made a commitment, and you wish you could go back on your commitment, and you might even wear it and keep the tag on it so you can take it back. I just want to help you. You say, "I want to simplify my life". Okay? Just choose to love God and love other people. It's that simple.
Now, you may have to take some weights off your board. I talked about stress one time. You may have to do some things. I understand there are other things. You may need to see a counselor. You may need to work through some emotional health issues that you have, some mental health issues that you might have. You have to work through some things with your childhood, but if you make a choice to love God, you'll simplify your life. I'm going to tell you another, one more story about Debbie. I've been around where we didn't have cell phones. We didn't have cell phones growing up. And then cell phones came out, and the only people had them were the people that could mount them in their car. They were mounted in the car, and then they came out with (I want to see if any of you remember this) bag phones.
Did anyone here have a bag phone? Look at yeah, I had one, too. Carabag, made me feel so important. My phone. My phone. Yeah, that carr... They weighed about 40 pounds. And then they came out with the walkie talkie. Motorolas, remember those? Huge! And then they came out with the Star Trek "Beam me up, Scotty". phone. Just flip it open. Look how cool I am. I got a flip phone. And so, by then, so I got Debbie this phone, Well, she was running the women's ministry at the church, and then she would go to lunch with some ladies or a team or whatever, but I got offended because she wouldn't answer her phone. Now, she didn't like to keep it on ring because she'd be in a meeting or she'd be at lunch with her women's team or something. So, she put it on vibrate.
Here's the difference that I had to figure out, but it took me a while to figure it out. Men, we carry our phones in our pocket, right? Vibrates. We feel it. Women carry their phones in their purse, so they don't know. Again, we're in our early 40s. Okay? I'm still working through all these insecurities. So, I'd call, she wouldn't answer. And I just got more and more insecure, more and more rejected, angrier. And I just think, well, you know, if you don't care enough to answer your phone, I don't care enough to leave a voicemail. If you don't care enough to answer your phone when I call, I don't care enough to answer my phone when you call. I mean, I just started getting offended, very offended. "She doesn't love me. She doesn't answer the phone".
And so, we finally talked about it. She said, "I just don't hear it". But when she realized that it was important to me, she would take her phone out and set it on the table in the women's team meeting, and she would say, "And I just want you to know something. If if Robert calls me, I'm answering this phone. And I'm not answering it because I'm the women's pastor, and because he's the senior pastor. I'm answering it because he's the love of my life. He's much more important to me than all of you".
And I just met with a pastor this last week, flew in from California just so he could meet with me for a couple of hours, and I do the same thing this day, and my team can tell you I do the same thing. I put the phone right there, and I say to them, I say to my team, and I said to this pastor, "I just want you to know, if Debbie calls, I'm answering this phone". And can I tell you why? It's because we're committed. She is more important than any meeting that I'm going to be in. And here's the wonderful thing. Even getting married at 18 and me not even knowing Christ then and all the silliness that I've told you that I've gone through, the insecurities and the inferiorities. This week, this week is our 43rd wedding anniversary. This week.
Love is not that hard. It's just choosing to make a commitment, to not get offended over the little things or the big things. I want you to bow your heads and close your eyes. The whole Bible, Jesus said, summed up in just two commandments: love God and love other people. Love God and love people. I want you to do just like we do every weekend. Holy Spirit, what are You saying to me? Lord, what are you saying to me through this message? Just take a moment, just say, Lord, what are you saying to me through this message? Just take a moment, and He may answer you right now, or He might answer you Tuesday in your quiet time or some other time or just driving down the road, and you might think, I'm going to listen that message again.
And the Holy Spirit speaks something to you. Just let the Lord speak to you because we've got the most incredible apostle that wrote a third of the New Testament saying, "Let me tell you what I'm afraid of. I'm afraid that in the same way the serpent deceived Eve, your minds would be drawn away, corrupted from the simplicity of devotion to Christ". It's so simple to love Jesus, and that is, you just choose to keep your commitment to Him. Lord, I pray for all of us, that when the big choices come up and when the little choices come up, we're going to choose to stay committed to You, in Jesus' name, amen.