“For our boast is this: the testimony of our conscience that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you.” 2 Corinthians 1:12
Simplicity. I hear that word a lot these days. It’s all over blogs. It’s all over books. And it’s no wonder… this country has gone as far away from simplicity as can be. And we’re all suffering because of it.
So, despite the fact that it’s sort of a “trendy word,” simplicity is my goal in just about everything in life. Why? Because simplicity allows for godly sincerity. Simplicity allows me to stop thinking about things and focus on relationships (and more eternal things).
Am I there yet? Absolutely not.
I have come a long way… we sold our expensive home (well, it was expensive to us); we have gotten rid of many toys, books, clothes, etc; we have used cars; we focus on frugality in most things; but we still have a long way to go.
I actually started pursuing simplicity before it was “trendy.” About 6 years ago, I read the book Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth by Richard Foster. While the whole book is very important and is applicable (on prayer, meditation, study, etc), the chapter on simplicity stood out to me the most. It was a totally new concept to me. And honestly, every-time I read it, I feel like I see something new. When I first began pursuing this for our family, I decided to make a drastic change. Just like with any drastic change, it is only consistent if you truly want it and honestly, I feel that baby steps need to be taken. Now that I look back, I realize that we have come so far from the first time I read this. Not in the outward life-style per se, but in the inward reality. Foster says, “The Christian Discipline of simplicity is an inward reality that results in an outward life-style.“ It has taken six years to truly change on the inside… now it’s time to make more of a change in our out-ward life-style.
The three inner attitudes of simplicity are:
1) To receive what we have as a gift from God.
He gave it to us, and He can take it away.
2) To know that it is God’s business, and not ours, to care for what we have.
In other words… let go of control of “things” and trust God.
3) To have our goods available to others.
If someone needed one of your treasured “things,” would you be willing to share?
The outward expressions of simplicity are:
1) Buy things for their usefulness rather than their status.
2) Reject anything that is producing an addiction in you.
Yep… coffee, soda, television, Facebook, iPhones… This is hard.
3) Develop a habit of giving things away. If you find that you are becoming attached to some possession, consider giving it to someone who needs it.
4) Refuse to be propagandized by the custodians of modern gadgetry (yes, this includes iPhone 5s, fancy computers, etc… yikes).
5) Learn to enjoy things without owning them (library, parks, camping, etc).
6) Develop a deeper appreciation for creation… “the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof” (Ps. 24:1).
God’s creation refreshes the soul, and is good for the physical body as well as the mental/emotional part of self. I will be writing about this soon.
7) Look with a healthy skepticism at all “buy now, pay later” schemes. They are a trap and only deepen your bondage.
Yes, debt. It causes bondage. I can testify to that in our own life.
8) Obey Jesus’ instructions about plain, honest speech. “Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No;’ anything more than this comes from evil” (Matt. 5:37).
9) Reject anything that breeds the oppression of others.
Did you know that most things that you buy in the U.S. causes oppression for others? This one takes a lot of research and big change. We aren’t there yet.
10) Shun anything that distracts you from seeking first the kingdom of God.
This includes even good things… even pursuing simplicity.
I started reading the book 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess last night, and it truly speaks to my heart. Here is the trailer for the book:
After I finish the book, I will write more about this. Again, I have a long way to go, and I feel that this book will continue to give me the motivation to make the changes that I want to make (inside and out).
Will you join me?