After writing about materialism earlier this week, I’ve been thinking about money and possessions. I’ve also been considering these things because my husband and I are reworking our budget in preparation for our baby that is due in October. When I consider money and possessions, my thoughts often turn to simplicity.
Simple living has become a somewhat trendy topic; however, it’s not a new topic, nor is it as straightforward as many of us would like to believe. My recent musings have given me an opportunity to review the meaning of simplicity and to consider why I seek it.
What is simplicity?
I’ve noticed that everyone who seeks simplicity defines it and practices it a little differently. Personally, I draw my definition and practice from Biblical principles.
Simplicity is an inward mentality that is manifested in outward actions. At its root is having a singular focus: God. This focus sets us free from our inherent need for the praise and approval of others. It frees us from our drive to obtain wealth and possessions. It allows us to obey God without fear of how our practical needs for food, shelter, and clothing will be met. It allows us to rearrange our hectic schedules so we have time for fellowship, worship, and rest. It guides our budgeting and purchases so we consume products in manners that are socially and environmentally responsible. It frees up our resources so we can serve others.
We find the principles that underpin this definition throughout the Bible. The creation story illustrates how all of creation, including mankind, has no independent existence. We are completely dependent on God. In the prescribed practices of gleaning (Leviticus 23:22) and Jubilee (Leviticus 25:10), we see God’s compassion for the poor and His desire that we provide for them. We see God’s plan for His people to rest in His command that we keep the Sabbath (Exodus 20:9-10).
From the Sermon on the Mount we see that God does not want us to practice our faith (giving, praying, and fasting) in order to gain human accolade (Matthew 6). We also learn that we should store up our treasures in heaven, not on earth. In other portions of the New Testament we see that caring for the needy is a critical aspect of our faith (Matthew 25:34-40, James 1:27). We see that wealth, though not forbidden, can be very risky (Matthew 19:23, Luke 16:13, 1 Timothy 6:9). We learn that walking in community is characterized by fellowship and generous giving (Acts 2:42-46).
It is ironic that simplicity is anything but simple. There is no simple definition of the concept and it’s certainly not simple to practice. However, as I’ve studied the topic and sought to live simply, my faith has grown and I’ve learned to appreciate more of the little things in life. I definitely think it’s a valuable endeavor! I hope you’ll join me as I share some more about simplicity in the coming weeks.
How do you define simplicity? Is it something you actively seek?