By Andrew Calabrese
“Better is an handful with quietness, than both the hands full with travail and vexation of spirit.” Ecclesiastes 4:6
I love skittles! They are probably the best candy made of all time (in my opinion). However, my love for skittles taught me a very hard lesson to accept. Back when I was in the sixth grade, I went to the movies and I brought two packs of Skittles with me. I ate through the first pack one by one, a red one, a green one, a yellow one, a purple one…I ended up eating a whole pack in one movie!
So, I opened the second pack. I ate and ate and ate, and I got down where I had three left. Then suddenly, my body had a violent reaction and kicked back. To be polite, I remember having a “technicolor yawn”—a “rainbow” come forth out of my mouth right then and there in the theatre! Looking back on that moment, I realize God was trying to teach me a very important lesson.
Our culture teaches us that if one is good, then is two is better! If you’re like me, I bought in to this lie many times over the course of my life. I always thought if having one dollar is good, having two is better. If having one donut is good, two is better. If having one pack of skittles is good, two is better!
God teaches us from His Word that quite frankly the opposite is true. According to Ecclesiastes 4:6, God explains that it is actually better to have less. Come again? You didn’t just say what I think you said, did you? Yes, God says it is better to have less of what doesn’t matter and more of what does.
Better is one hand full with quietness (with tranquility, with peace) than two hands full with travail and vexation of spirit (toil and striving and stress and chasing after the wind.)
Jesus hit this principle head-on in the New Testament. In fact, He was very aggressive with His words. This is what Jesus said in Luke 12:15. He was talking to a group of people and He said: “Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.”
What was He saying? He basically says, “Watch out! Be on your guard. More is not always better. Watch out for covetousness and greed because your life does not consist in what you have.” And then He told a parable…something along these lines:
Once upon a time, there was a guy that had a very successful business here and the guy said, ‘Oh man, I’m going to tear down my old barns and I’m going to build new ones, bigger ones, better ones, more! I’m going to kick back, and I’m going to take life easy. I’m going to drink; I’m going to be merry; I’m going to be happy!’ And Jesus said, ‘On that very night your life will be taken away from you.’ Why? Here’s what Jesus said, He said in verse 21:
“So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:21)
This will be what it’s like for anyone who just goes, “More, more, more!” You’ll be chasing after the wind, and won’t have what matters most—an intimate relationship with God
I’m convinced God doesn’t care so much about what we have. He doesn’t want what we have to have us. He wants us to be rich in that which really matters. That’s why it’s better to have less of what doesn’t matter and more of what does.
How can we live a “one handful” life?
1) LET GO OF WHAT DOESN’T MATTER.
The writer to the Hebrews in Hebrews 12:1 said: “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us,” Why? So that we can, “run with patience the race that is set before us,”
Let us lay aside anything and everything that hinders. This is interesting: the Greek word that is translated as “lay aside” can also be translated as cast down. It’s kind of a violent throwing down. Like if you get a June bug that flies into your hair, what do you do? He meets concrete when you throw that baby down! That’s what you do—you cast off, you throw down, and you lay aside everything that hinders or gets in your way of the race marked out for you.
I hope you’ll always remember that there is a race that God has marked out for you. God put you here on earth to do something significant, and your spiritual enemy is going to say, “Hey, what about that? You don’t have that!” And before long, we’re chasing the wind, something that doesn’t matter. You have to have the discipline to lay that aside, and cast down anything and everything that does not matter.
Now, here’s three quick phrases that I believe will help us let go of the things that do not matter:
What are we going to cut back? I don’t know what you need to cut back on, but most people I know need to cut back on spending and their schedules.
Let’s start with your spending: Better is one handful; better is less with tranquility and financial margin than two handfuls with a financial noose around your neck. Better is one handful with money left over at the end of the month than two handfuls with fights and worry and financial fears.
How stupid is it in our world that we buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like? And then we worry and we’re anxious about, “I don’t have enough money! I don’t have enough money!” Better is less with room to breathe.
Consider your schedule. For some of you it’s time to get very prayerful and very aggressive in cutting back on society’s pressure to say yes to everything. In fact, what is the most common answer to the question in our culture when someone says, “Hey, how you doing?”
What do most people say?”I’m really busy!” Right? “I’m busy!” And if they don’t say that, then they’ll say, ”I’m tired!”
Do you really think that God who says, ‘Come to me all who are weary and heavy and I will give you rest’ (paraphrase) meant our lives to be lived out that way? Culture has lied to us: “More is better, more is better, more is better!” It’s time to say no to some things that everybody else says yes to.
Some of you need to throw out a lot. Clean the clutter out! A friend of mine told me a couple years ago, “We’re throwing out!” And he said, “Throw away as if your life depends on it, because it does!” I love that phrase! I’ll never forget about it! He said, “Throw away as if your life depends upon it because it does!”
And that’s kind of become a motto for me. It’s, I mean, I want to get rid of everything all of the time. Katie and I get rid f things all the time. Here’s the deal, you haven’t worn it in a year, give it to somebody who can use it, get it out of your closet.
I don’t know what you need to turn off, but some of you need to turn something off. I don’t know what it is, turn the television off. You may spend more time watching the television than you do in God’s Word, or playing with your kids, or serving in your church, and if that’s you…I’m here to tell you that you’re wasting your life! Here’s the deal, you will never change the world watching reruns. So, why would you waste your life spending hours doing something that doesn’t matter?
For many of us, our cell phones have become an idol! You go out to dinner, and watch a nice family of four sitting there at the table. Everybody’s talking to somebody else, reading whatever, words with friends, you know, it’s ridiculous!
One reason I’m so passionate about this is because Katie told me early on in our marriage, “You’re on your phone too much!” And my response was, “Hey, I’m changing the world on my phone baby; I’m talking to people!” And I thought it was important, but I am beginning to realize it actually affects our marriage and our family in a negative way. Some of us need to get real serious and throw down, cast off, let go of what doesn’t matter.
2) FIGHT FOR WHAT DOES MATTER.
I love the way Nehemiah said it whenever Sanballat and Tobiah were trying to talk God’s people out of rebuilding the wall. Nehemiah said: “…remember the Lord, which is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses.” (Nehemiah 4:14)
Fight for what’s important! Draw your swords and fight; fight like a man; fight like a man of God; fight like a woman of God! Fight for it! And don’t let the culture lie to you. Don’t waste your life, fight for what matters. Less of what doesn’t matter, more of what does.
My life is too valuable, my calling is too great, and my God is too good to waste my life on things that don’t matter! And your life is too valuable, your calling is too great, and your God too good to waste your life on things that don’t matter.
God created you and put you on earth to glorify Him, to make a difference, to make Him known, to love Him, and to love people! Don’t sell out chasing the wind—“more, more, more!”
“Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.”
“Better is an handful with quietness, than both the hands full with travail and vexation of spirit.”
Better one handful and a good marriage.
Better one handful and children that you know.
Better one handful and making a difference in life.
Better one handful and intimate friends.
Better one handful and a great relationship with God.
Better one handful and influence.
Better one handful and margin.
Better one handful and love, than two handfuls with toil, stress, panic, greed, and more and more—chasing after the wind. It is infinitely better to have less of what doesn’t matter and more of what does. Commit today to “one handful” living.