Simplicity

 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Matthew 6:33

This verse pretty well says it all about the Spiritual Practice of Simplicity. Like Frugality, Simplicity is more of a way of life than anything else; you don’t withdraw to a quiet room for this one.

Jesus told the people of His time not to worry about anything and not to be overly concerned about money, possessions and above all not to be pulled into greed. Yet the society of His day was far more simple than the one in which live today. Is it even possible for us to live simple lives?

The starting point of simplicity is to have an absolute passion and priority for the Kingdom of God, so much so, in fact, that the acquisition of material possessions is based purely upon practical necessity. Here’s an illustration:

When I was 8 years old, we did not have any of the following items:

A color TV, cable or satellite.

A cell phone of any kind.

A computer or tablet.

A microwave or convection oven.

A garage door opener.

Air conditioning, either in the house or the car.

A big house.

A powered lawn mower or any other powered lawn or garden tools… or any kind of power tools for that matter.

Electric kitchen appliances.

A printer or fax machine, or voice mail in any form; needless to say, we didn’t have internet either.

My sister and I walked to school every day by ourselves.

Were we poor? No, we were upper middle class, and our swimming pool was actually heated. The only thing is, most of the items, necessities of life that they are, didn’t exist− so I know that none of them are actually “needs”.

To practice simplicity, we must learn to tell the difference between things we want and things we need, and to sacrifice the wants for the sake of the Kingdom.

Many people who practice simplicity find that having a better connection with the Creation is beneficial, although city dwellers can practice it too. Many find that a heightened appreciation for God’s natural creation is helpful because it reminds us that we really don’t “own” anything, for all that we have was provided by God for our Provision, except maybe things that are on my list above…

Some find it helpful to live in very simple circumstances in the country rather than in town where the pressure is greater to follow the crowd. Some might even learn to live “off grid” like the Amish do. Others believe that an enhanced connection with Nature brings them much closer to God; some of those practice Naturism to be at one with Nature as Adam and Eve were.

The point is that the practice of simplicity is all about your priorities and mindset. I think we can all agree on that. To be honest, this one has a certain attraction for me, and when I was a young man, I wanted to buy a place out in the mountains, a simple cabin sounded good, and live a simple life as many of our ancestors did on the frontier. Of course, wives have a way of using their Veto power to derail such notions… not to mention the fact that, having grown up in the city, I lacked all of the skills required by such circumstances. Being older now, it also occurs to me that living a life way out yonder would make it a little difficult to build the Kingdom by sharing the love of Christ with squirrels and jackrabbits.

Yet we can all have a different outlook on the materialism of this world in which we live.

Any thoughts on this one?

About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
This entry was posted in Bible and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Simplicity

  1. “Simple” –good word, friend! So many applications, too. I pray for the simplicity of a child.

  2. Jeanne Sawyer says:

    My dad retired from ministry. They became campground hosts and gave up their material possessions for a motorhome. Funny but you don’t retire from the ministry! God brought the people to them, even if they were backpacking in the wilderness. God worked in a mighty way out in nature!

  3. I agreed with everything on your list but stumbled on electric appliances. I’m pretty sure we had an electric toaster and mixer in the late 40’s or very early 50’s. I remember that my Mom bought a cabin in the woods in Northern Michigan in the late 50’s. It was essentially a shell. She had some partitions put up, but we used butcher paper instead of sheetrock to cover them. We did have an indoor hand pump in the kitchen and an outdoor privy (which I knocked over once whilst felling a tree for firewood). We used a Coleman lantern at night and played cards and board games to pass the time. I miss it!!

  4. sullivanspin says:

    With Christ simplicity is fulfilling. To be known and loved by God is life’s grandest treasure. I’ve been wrestling with this verse for months now. I’m longing for a career change and I’m confronted with this verse at every turn. Maybe God is trying to tell me something? Great post.

  5. Beth Ann says:

    For years I struggled to be content with what I had. I’ve pretty much got that down pat, but now I’m working to do the simplification thing. I’m a new follower and I’m looking forward to your blogs on scripture. What I’ve read in the archives looks really good.

  6. jessicamaymoore says:

    Just put a lake in front of your cabin and no problem.

  7. We had a toaster. And a range and oven. Our family too was middle class.
    My wife and I spent a year in Africa, 1989-90, and all we took with us was what fit in our suitcases. It is amazing what you don’t need – and don’t necessarily miss.

  8. photojaq says:

    I’ve read several books on simplifying your life/home etc, and I always start out with a kitchen drawer or closet or vanity. It feels so good! Then I lose steam. Wish I could do it always…. right from when deciding to purchase something new.
    In a book I read, a single young man so simplified his life he could pack up all his belongings and move to another apartment… in 30 minutes.
    Another young man, packed all he owned into his backpack and moved to…..another country every three months!!!
    Whew! I’ve got a long way to go.

    • Don Merritt says:

      Some might think that’s a bit extreme… I have a friend who agreed with his wife that each one must throw 2 things away every day for 90 days. I hear it got pretty hard in the last couple of weeks 🙂

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