Quick! What comes to mind when you hear the phrase living simple? I would wager you probably thought of something that had to do with getting rid of your possessions. At least that is the direction society pushes us. Take for example, the modern day hero. He started out in poverty, climbed the ladder to “success” and is not rich by his own determination and hard work. If-there’s-a-will-there’s-a-way poster child. When is the last time you heard about the woman who started off rich, but purposefully became poor to improve other’s quality of life? Just not news material.
Simplicity at it’s core is about putting Kingdom principles into practice in such a way that they give us the proper perspective on “stuff”. It has to do with making decisions on the basis of sound reason, become truthful and honest in our speech, and letting go of the lust for status and position. A master of simplicity ceases from showy extravagance not on the grounds of being unable to afford it, but on the grounds of principle.
Lens of Scripture
The concept of simplicity permeates every aspect of scripture from creation to the cross.
Think about the Garden of Eden for a second. The first parents had everything they needed. Provision out the wazoo, sex without the fear of kids banging on the door for a glass of water, exotic animals, absolute paradise. Yet, it was not enough.
Christ – the exact opposite. Colossians 1:17 says that He was before all things and in Him all things consist. Creator of the universe in human form. And when it came to die, He was laid in a borrowed tomb. Christ embraced simplicity with incredible restraint.
Let’s take a moment and see what the Master of Simplicity had to say about wealth:
- “No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” Luke 16:13 ESV
- “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.” Luke 6:24 ESV
- “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21 ESV
For a moment, you almost feel guilty if you own anything. But let’s back up to the same truth on which all the Spiritual Disciplines hang on: it’s a matter of the heart. Christ was not condemning wealth, He was condemning serving it. Making it an idol. Remember it is God who gave Solomon incredible wealth, God who moved Israel into a land “flowing with milk & honey”, and God who gave Adam dominion over creation (power has incredible wealth associated with it). It was Christ who lifted up the woman who poured expensive perfume on His feet. Perfume that could have gone into the Baptist General Fund and bought countless homeless people meals. There is misery for those who have a lack of provision just as much as those who try to make a life out of provision. Forced poverty by its own nature is evil, because it means that someone else has put their desires above the needs of others.
I hope you will stick with me through this next couple of posts as we explore this discipline of simplicity in depth.
Discipline of Simplicity Series
- Spiritual Discipline: Simplicity
- Simplicity: Lens of Tradition
- Simplicity: Lens of Reason
- Simplicity: Lens of Experience