Keep it simple, stupid. The old saying that I have heard used (and have used myself) in many circumstances. It works in so many different circumstances – in relationships, in work, in play, in faith. I know that I have a tendency to over-analyze, over-interpret, over-everything and it so often just has to come back to simplicity – what is at the core? What is the essential? What is the necessary?
As I move into the second chapter of the sermon on the mount, it comes back once again to simplicity to me in this passage. Jesus doesn’t come out and say it that directly, but I hear this in everything that is shared in this chapter. Make your giving simple, your prayers simple (including a very simple way to pray), make your fasting simple, your service simple – all leading to the point at the end of the chapter about God’s provision. When we don’t overcomplicate and don’t come to a place where we feel we need more and more and more, it is much easier to see the ways that God has provided.
I especially heard this sense in 6:5-14. As a pastor, I have heard people say many times that they are not comfortable in public prayer because they don’t “pray as well as” me or another pastor prays. When I hear that, I know it has more to do with the phrasing of what is said and not the content of the prayers. Yet, here it is in verse 7 especially, “When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think they will be heard because of their many words.” How often do I fall into that trap of thinking that my prayers need to be eloquent or lengthy, yet what Jesus is asking for is a simple conversation, a simple back-and-forth, a simple “let’s talk.”
I think that’s why this picture spoke to me today – the picture is simply a single flower planted in a old basin. One flower. Nothing overpowering, or overly complicated. Just one beautiful flower in an old basin in front of a small pond on a cloudy afternoon. Pretty simple. But pretty beautiful.