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Toward a More Simple Life

Simplicity in Wants 

Marie Kondo and her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing have sparked a recent minimalist and simplistic lifestyle movement. In my own house, one of my daughters went from being a hoarder to a donator, and while researching and praying through this post, I collected several garbage bags worth of items to donate from my closet. (Yikes! Didn’t realize I had that much stuff!)

While the idea of a capsule wardrobe and a decluttered linen closet is appealing, this bibliophile can’t fathom a home without overflowing bookshelves. 

But does the Bible care how many pairs of shoes we own? Or how many sets of dishes we stack in our china cabinet? I don’t think so. But what God does care about is whether we’re good stewards of what he’s blessed us with and whether we’re distracted by unnecessary stuff or busyness. 

Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy.

1 Corinthians 4:2

Here’s the thing, friends. God gives us what we NEED! Not always what we want, but what we need. All we need is to “dwell in the land” and pursue faithfulness (Psalm 37:3). God has placed us where we are. Our job is to be faithful. That’s it! Anything more is just the icing on the cake.

When we have more than we need, we can live generously and bless others. When we aren’t striving to get more stuff, then we don’t have to work ourselves to the bone.

Simplicity in Work

When we talk about working (or volunteering), we’ve got to talk about our overstuffed schedules, too! Even good things can become burdens if they’re causing us to be exhausted on a regular basis or if they’re distracting us for the best and most important things—our individual time with God, time with our families, and needed time for physical and emotional rest. We cannot serve God from a place of emptiness and exhaustion. We can’t serve others well from that place either. 

As we progress toward midlife, we become physically and mentally less able to multitask, take on extra commitments, and go-go-go all the time. We still think we can care for our families, work a full-time job, volunteer for an endless array of activities at church, and a host of other good things. 

News flash: we can’t. It’s time to take a prayerful look at our calendars, consult with our families/significant others, and focus WELL on the most important things in life. We want to do well what we need to and do things from a place of rest, not stress.

So what are we supposed to focus on? 

Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him, and he will act …
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;
    fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,
    over the man who carries out evil devices!

Psalm 37:6-7

That’s what we’re supposed to be doing! That’s it! Trust in God to take care of us and to dispose of our enemies in his time (not ours). 

Simplicity in Worth

All of this striving to have more, do more, and be more leads to a feeling of not enough. Ask me how I know. We are not designed for that! God made us enough, so we don’t have to BE anymore than we already are. God did all the work of salvation, so we don’t have to DO more (Ephesians 2:8-9). HE is enough. And when we can internalize that, we’ll be free to worship him the way he designed us to. 

But the meek [humble, gentle] shall inherit the land
    and delight themselves in abundant peace.

Psalm 37:11

The idea of meekness or humility here is not thinking less of yourself; it’s thinking of yourself less. When we have a proper appreciation for who God is, we will know who he created us to be. When we focus on worship, we’ll focus less on worry because we’ll have more peace. (Yes, I know it’s not a guaranteed formula, and I am way too familiar with chemical imbalances and such. That’s not the focus here).

Simplicity in worship

The crux of the matter is the reason we’re seeking a more minimalist lifestyle. Simplicity is not a decent goal in and of itself, but only for the purpose of pursuing God. An uncluttered life enables us to focus on the main thing—knowing God. Then we will have all that we want.

Delight yourself in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Psalm 37:4

Lest we get caught in the trap of thinking we’ll be upgrading our houses and cars if we only ask God for it, take a look at C.H. Spurgeon’s thoughts on this verse: “Do not think first of the desires of thy heart, but think first of delighting thyself in thy God. If thou hast accepted him as thy Lord, he is thine; so delight in him, and then he will give thee the desires of thy heart.” 

As I’m smack dab in middle age, I’ve come to realize that my life is to be a testimony to others of God’s faithfulness in my life. That’s exactly where David found himself when writing this psalm. 

I have been young, and now am old,
    yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken.

Psalm 37:25

Will our lives ever be trouble free? No, we’re not guaranteed that in the Bible. But as we strive to keep the main thing the main thing in our lives, we can show others the beauty of the simplicity of the Gospel.

What about you, friend? What do you need to simplify in your own life in order to focus more on pursuing God? Drop me a line, and let me know!

3 thoughts on “Toward a More Simple Life”

  1. Good one. A correction: In paragraph 4, “dwell in the land” is cited as from v. 3, but it is not v. e in 1 Corinthians 4, but in Psalm 37.

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