When I think of the incarnation, I think about two things. Extravagance and simplicity.
Extravagance because God chose, as deity, to cloak Himself in humanity. What an over-the-top extravagant gift! Simplicity because Jesus was born to a simple family in a simple manger with basic human needs like us. He didn’t live an extravagant life. He lived a simple one. Yet His gift to us was the most extravagant in history.
Here’s where this hits me today. I have been to Africa. I have seen poverty. I can’t go to a store today without thinking of my friend Paul who struggles to feed his family. I can’t look at our abundance without thinking of a friend’s lack. So I simplify, and I fret over every. single. purchase.
And yet, there are times when God gives me extravagant things. Is it glorifying to Him to begrudge His generosity? It’s like the post I wrote about not thinking I deserve dryer sheets. I walk into a store, wanting one thing, but buying the cheapest possible thing in order to be humble, simple. And yet, sometimes God allows extravagance.
Maybe it boils down to simple gratefulness. To be like Paul when he says, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” – Philippians 4:12-13 (NIV)
Gratefulness is being content, not only in simplicity, but also in extravagance. It’s thanking God for the roof over your head, the clothes on your body, the food in your stomach, the healing in your heart. With gratitude, I can receive gifts that seem extravagant. With gratitude, I can sacrifice to give great gifts to others.
So may it be that we embrace both extravagance and simplicity this Advent season.
How have you experienced God’s extravagance this year? How have you learned the joy of simplicity?