Book Review: Living With Less An Unexpected Key To Happiness by Joshua Becker

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In this brief book, (105 pages to be exact), Joshua Becker, author of Becoming Minimalist, husband and father of two, invites the reader to explore the lifestyle of minimalism through examining Jesus’ thoughts on possessions, revealing his personal journey towards living a life with less and it’s ensuing benefits. If you’re already too excited to read the rest of this review, click here to visit the books website or grab your own copy on Amazon in paperback or for Kindle.

Throughout this book, I was prompted to consider several concepts: 1) all hearts desire greater things than the pursuit of possessions 2) we are happier and more fulfilled when our lifestyle mirrors this truth 3) the benefits of owning less far outweigh the sacrifices (and these benefits are described in great detail). Becker writes:

The heart knows that possessions don’t equal joy. We know intuitively that happiness is not found in owning more. Instead, happiness is found in the pursuit of the lasting passions that God has placed in our hearts

Further, I was persuaded to critically look at culturally influenced interpretations of scripture with regard to possessions. Specifically, in reference to Luke 6:20 which reads in part “…blessed are you who are poor…”. Becker describes how in his experience the word poor was interpreted as spiritual poverty (a neediness for God) rather than just plain poverty as it says. The spiritual poverty interpretation potentially diverts our attention from an important message; perhaps it is better and even a blessing to have less. It is countercultural (to say the least) to imagine a blessed life with minimal possessions. I was impressed by the use of scriptures in this regard and even experienced a personal “aha” moment.

However, I was NOT asked to throw away my possessions and live in poverty. Rather, I was encouraged to examine my values and priorities and to contemplate the effectiveness of my possessions in upholding and nurturing those values and priorities. I found this to be a far more relatable and inspiring approach.

I believe this book book will appeal to a few types of readers: 1) individuals wanting to understand minimalism from a biblical perspective 2) those who have no idea what minimalism is and 3) those who are tentative about the lifestyle but may have a spark of curiosity. Though this book is geared toward a younger audience, I think it is perfectly suited for adults and is well worth the read.

What the Bible Says About Being Unfriendly – Proverbs 18:1 (NCV)

Recently, as I was sitting at my desk debating what to do during my short lunch break, I decided to open up the bible. I don’t think my faith was very strong at that moment and I needed some perspective. I opened it up with the intent to read something in the Psalms and landed on a scripture in Proverbs. It read, “unfriendly people are selfish and hate all good sense”, Proverbs 18:1 (NCV). I literally laughed out loud. I’ve never read that before. Ironically, I didn’t recall being particularly unfriendly that day, but there have been many days when responsibilities and elevated stress levels have morphed me into a surly beast. In those moments, I rarely think about the senselessness of being unkind. It’s so true! Typically when I become that surly beast, I am self-consumed and worried about the things in my life that are outside of my control. How senseless is that?!

So there you have it ladies and gentlemen. Have good sense; be friendly!

The Work To Believe – John 6:29

“…this is the only work God wants from you: believe in the one he has sent.” John 6:29 (NLT)

What is the most important work of a Christian? Is it going to church? Serving the poor? Giving contribution? Doing the “right thing”? Being nice? This scripture has challenged my thinking in the last few weeks about what matters most to God. Just believe? It sounds too easy and dare I say soft! However, if belief is the most important goal, then it must not be that easy. When I read scriptures like this, I have to take it to the Greek. Perhaps I misinterpreted what “work” means?

 The word “work” according to my Strong’s dictionary comes from the Greek word ergon which means “to work.” It also means “to toil (as an effort or occupation); by implication, an act:-deed, doing labor, work.” Work is work!

What is the moral of the story? The majority of my effort should be poured into nuturing, increasing and/or rebuilding my faith in God. My biggest enemy in this effort is working too hard to please people and look good on the outside while forgetting about God and neglecting my spirit. I need to get to work!