Simplicity – Disciplines 2014-22
How do you define Simplicity?
The base root is the word “Simple”. In Ecclesiastes 7:30 it states, “God made man simple; man’s complex problems are of his own devising”. The Christian Discipline of Simplicity is an inward reality that results in an outward life style. Nobody in this class can profess to have a simple inward thinking and not have an effect on how they live, which is the same way of your thinking. Just cannot happen.
When you have an inward simple reality, you are liberated outwardly. Your manner of speech is more truthful and honest. The quest for status or position in life is gone, because we don’t need those things any longer. We offer ourselves and our goods to others, to the church, for instance, and where needed by others. We will no longer fear what others will think of us, but instead do things because we feel we must do them for the sake of those others.
What about today’s life styles and simplicity?
I would imagine that EVERYONE craves things, at times, that we neither need nor enjoy. We buy and buy items we do not necessarily want, but do so to, at times, impress people we know. When we purchase items that have a planned obsolescence, where that ends, psychological obsolescence takes over. Some are ashamed to have last year’s style of clothes or a very old but reliable car, and are made to feel ashamed by owning them (especially by the manufacturers). The media tells us that to be out of step with fashion is to be out of step with reality. We must take exception to the modern psychosis that defines people by how much they can produce or what they earn. The Spiritual Discipline of Simplicity is not lost — just something that we have to recapture today.
Does the Bible teach about Simplicity?
It all depends on who you talk to about the Bible and the simple life. The Old Testament is rife with warnings about the exploitation of the poor and the accumulation of wealth. The world we live in belongs to God and cannot be held perpetually as stated in Leviticus 25:23. The Ten Commandments have the one about covetousness or the lust “to have” which can lead to stealing and oppression, if taken to the nth degree. Jesus taught or condemned the mammon or wealth and declared it the “rival God”, as “You cannot serve God and Mammon”, as stated in Luke 16:13. Other Scripture readings are Luke 12:15; Luke 12:33; Luke 12:16-21; Matthew 13:45-46 and Luke 6:30 as some of the other examples of the teachings of Jesus.
What should we do then regarding material things?
OK, does that mean we should become paupers and do without STUFF? NO!!!! God wants us to have adequate material provisions in life. Forcing oneself into poverty is not right in the eyes of God and should be renounced as being contrary to God’s will. Scripture declares that the creations of God are good and to be enjoyed. And extreme asceticism is not to be condoned.
Asceticism or the severe self-discipline and abstention from all form of indulgence, usually for religious reasons and it renounces possessions whereas Simplicity puts those same things into perspective. There is no place for the “good things in life” with the ascetic, but Simplicity rejoices in this gracious provision from the hand of God.
12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:12-13
What is the “Outward Expression” of Simplicity?
I said before that you cannot have an inner reality without an outward expression and to experience the liberating spirit of Simplicity WILL affect how we live. With this thought in mind, we must discuss the specifics or this Discipline would be just theoretical. Therefore I will suggest ten controlling principles for the outward expression of Simplicity. These are NOT laws, but instead an attempt to define the meaning of Simplicity today.
Buy things for their usefulness rather than for their status. Would it be prudent to buy or own a home with 22 rooms whereas 6 or seven would do well for two people? Joann and I live in a house that is too big for us, and we will be downsizing to a smaller place sometime. Buy clothes that you need without the need to impress others. IF you haven’t worn a certain item of clothing for over a year, donate it to Dorothy’s Porch, regardless of the original cost.
Reject those things that you are addicted to in life. This could be almost anything, such as drinks of any nature, chocolate, videos, books or as simple as money itself. Refuse to be a slave to anything but to God, as His servant. Easier said than done, I am sure and not something we want to rush out and start or stop doing. Keep this in mind, addiction is something beyond your control, and that is where God comes into your life as the forgiving grace and healing power of God to help you with your control.
Give things away. I don’t mean the tie or scarf you got for Christmas you never wear, but that is still OK to give away. It would mean more though to give something that means much to you as a present to someone else that truly needs it. We gave a TV enclosure, TV and DVD to someone whereas I could have made some money on it selling it on Craigslist. The feeling we had in knowing that the items were truly appreciated was overwhelming to us. Get rid of things and De-accumulate and in the process, simplify, and simplify your life.
Fourth, refuse to be propagandized by the custodians of modern gadgetry. New gadgets, such as the I-Pads, Smart Phones, Kindles, and other such toys are examples of having the “newest model” for the sake of having it. These new features seduce us into buying items we do not need, but only want. We, who live in the U.S. comprise 6 percent of the world population but we consume 33 % of the world’s energy, so gadgets are an unnecessary drain on the energy resources of the world. Our children and grandchildren don’t need the cheap breakable toys made today. Look for the durable and educational ones and/or make some yourself. Ever notice how the small kids play in the boxes that the gifts came in?
Enjoy those things that you don’t own! How do you do that? Well, the beaches at a Lake , the parks at a local Park District, the libraries that abound, are some ways to do this. If you own something we feel we can control it, if we control it we will get more pleasure – these are illusions. Free things can be enjoyed without owning or controlling them.
The Earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof (Ps 24:1) Develop a sense of appreciation for the creations of God and His Glory. Enjoy nature, the birds, the bees, the bugs, the flowers, and the rainbow of colors of nature. Again, the park systems of Lake and Geauga are teeming with adventures to be had, and things to enjoy. Get closer to the earth and closer to God in the process.
Use extreme caution before incurring debt by being simple and prudent. The advertisements to buy now and pay later, (over and over again) is something to be skeptical about today. Usury in the Bible referred to any kind of interest, and it still applies today. Jesus denounced usury as a sign of the old life and admonished his disciples to “lend, expecting nothing in return” (Luke 6:35). Do not be held in bondage to the schemes of those wanting you to buy from them and paying later.
Be honest in your speech. In (Matthew 5:37) “Let what you say be simply ‘Yes” or “No”, anything more than this comes from evil”. Make integrity and honesty the biggest characteristics of your speech. It is best to reject half-truths or ways of talking that obscure and done to impress rather than to inform and illuminate. After my accident, I found that if I told the truth in my speaking to others, I did not have to try to remember those things that were untrue and it was much easier to live that way. I remember years ago when I was in sales, I lost orders due to telling the truth about shipments being longer than the customers desires, but then I found that in the telling, the customers got to know I had integrity and could trust me when I told them something.
Reject anything that breeds the oppression of others. The best way to give an example of this is to think of those things that are things we purchase. Do we sip our coffee and eat our bananas at the expense of exploiting Latin American peasants? In a world of limited resources, does our lust for wealth mean the poverty of others? Should we buy products that are made by forcing people into dull assembly-line jobs? Do we enjoy hierarchical relationships in the company or factory that keep others under us? Do we oppress our children or spouse because we feel certain tasks are beneath us?
Our oppression takes on the thought of racism, sexism, and nationalism. The color of the skin still affects one’s position in the company. The sex of a job applicant still affects the salary. The national origin of a person still affects the way he or she is perceived.
Lastly, shun anything that distracts you from seeking first the kingdom of God. Job, position, status, family, friends, and security— these and many more can all too quickly become the center of attention. It is all too easy to lose focus in the pursuit of legitimate, even good things, but we must try. Simplicity: May God give you— and me— the courage, the wisdom, the strength always to hold the kingdom of God as the number-one priority of our lives. To do so is to live in simplicity.
It may not; no I really think it IS NOT easy to live the simple life. You have to go out of your way to do so. It can be done, but you have to have a commitment to do so. I suggest you try it, but start slow, make goals and work towards it. I bet you might be surprised at the results.