The Discipline of Simplicity
We now venture into the first of four outward disciplines... simplicity. The first four disciplines are more inward, self-focused: Meditation, prayer, fasting and study. Taken together, these first four help fuel the outward and corporate disciplines, which we begin to discuss now. The great new is you don’t have to be experts in any of them, just pursue and enjoy them.
I hope it goes without saying in your own heart and head, that living in the United States means we are a people living in a time where never, in the history of humankind, have such a large group of people enjoyed so many resources and opportunities as we do today. Do your own research, and see if this is not true. Even the most economically challenged in the United States live far better and far “higher” than most of the world’s population.
Regardless of our personal situation, we are called to give thanks in all circumstances... God inspires Paul to share this in the letter to the disciples in Thessalonica... for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Sometimes we ponder, “what is God’s will for my life?” This is a great question we should consider regularly... that being said, God makes it perfectly clear that from a high level, we know (because He tells us) what God’s will is for us... We get this on straight, all other micro decisions get a lot clearer, better defined and Spirit led.
Here is the full context of God’s will for us... 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
(always, continually, in all circumstances)
The life of simplicity is greatly influenced through this view of God’s will for our lives. Simplicity clears the path for God’s will to work through us. Stuff, accumulation of things and even money, often leads to distraction and delusion. Whether we realize it or not, we get confused... It’s why Jesus said where your treasure is, that is where your heart is also... later we read that the “love of money” is the root of all evil.
In Mark 4:19 Jesus warns us that, ...” the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.”
What is simplicity?
Simplicity is an inward reality that results in an outward lifestyle. Both are essential.
We make a commitment to keeping our lives free from the weeds of desire, worries and deceitfulness of wealth.
Before we can forge a biblical perspective on simplicity, we must destroy the idea that God’s word is ambiguous about economic issues, that our response to wealth is simply a personal choice.
God’s word challenges every economic value of contemporary society.
1. The right to total property ownership. In the year of Jubilee, all land reverts to its original owner every 50 years. A means to redistribute wealth to prevent hording. One of God’s solutions to the “rich becoming richer, the poor becoming poorer”... Lev 25:23
2. Psalm 62:10 ...though your riches increase, do not set your heart on them.
3. Proverbs 11:28 Those who trust in their riches will fall, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf.
4. Luke 16:13 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
5. Luke 6:20 Looking at his disciples, he said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.”
6. Luke 6:24 “But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort.”
7. Matthew 6:19-21 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
8. Luke 12:15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”
9. Acts 4:32-35 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.
10. Ascetism (severe self-discipline and avoidance of all forms of indulgence, typically for religious reasons) is not the strategy to simplicity. In fact, it is the opposite extreme of greed.
11. Greed and asceticism are evil and become the objects of worship.
12. This tension naturally calls for the other disciplines (meditation, prayer, fasting, study) in life to help us discern God’s will.
13. Simplicity is the most visible form of disciplines to others.
14. We can easily think and make our personal application of simplicity requirements for others. Thus, it becomes legalistic.
What is the purpose of simplicity?
1-To seek first God’s Kingdom and His righteousness. Matthew 6:25-33
2-Alleviate our anxiety for and over things.
Freedom from Anxiety is characterized by three things:
1-What we have is a GIFT
2-What we have is cared for by God
3-What we have is available to others
Anxiety and slavery on the other hand:
1-What we have, we have gotten
2-What we have we must hold on to
3-What we have is not available to others
Developing simplicity as a discipline calls for:
1-Meditation, prayer, fasting, study
2-Buying things for their usefulness, not their status
3-Rejecting anything that leads or supports an addiction. Simplicity is freedom, not slavery
4-Giving things away... de-accumulate
5-Watching out for gadgetry, devices
6-Training yourself to enjoy creation
8-Purchasing with a conscious
9-Staying away from anything that interferes with your first love
Pray that your eyes can be opened to being great stewards, supremely generous, joyfully thankful and abundantly simple.
Still to come: