I have made simplicity a way of life. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines simplicity as “the state of being simple, uncomplicated, or uncompounded.” I don’t know about you, but simplicity sounds pretty good!
Over the past year and half, I have embarked on a personal adventure to free myself of “stuff” I don’t need. I’ve been a pack rat most of my life, so this has been a hard undertaking. In all seriousness, I think I trashed, burned or donated half of my house! And do you know what? I feel so much better – like a person once obese that has lost half their body weight. With simplicity, comes a sense of freedom and a greater appreciation for the things in life that matter.
As many know, our financial situation is difficult this year. Without getting into all of details, we have to pay an extra $400 a month towards our mortgage until October 2011. At first, this was devastating news. We have learned a great deal about managing our finances! The hard part is that our discretionary income has gone out the window. We have learned to get back to the basics. We aren’t re-accumulating junk. We purchase only what we really need. We have also learned to greater appreciate the things in life that money can never buy.
Does the Bible talk of living a simple life? Yes! I think of Jesus. He lived a very simple life from His birth to His death. In Mark 10, one rich man told Jesus he had kept all of the commandments from his youth and wondered what else he needed to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus told him to sell all he had and give it to the poor. He told the man his true treasure was in heaven. The man went away with great sadness for he would not do such a thing. Jesus told His disciples that it is hard for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. It is so hard, in fact, he says it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. This passage of scripture has been a great source of inspiration to me. How tightly do you hold onto the things of this world? Would you be willing to let them all go for the sake of the cross like Jesus and his disciples?
I think the key to letting go or foregoing many of the things in this world is to keep an eternal perspective. Matthew 6:19-20 instructs us to store our treasures in heaven, which will never be destroyed. “Don’t lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.” It’s easy to become enticed by the things of this world. We can use our senses to touch, see, hear, taste and smell them. It’s much harder to store up intangible things we won’t even get to experience until we die a physical death. If we live each day knowing we’re one step closer to heaven, it can begin to change our perspective and our priorities.
I love reading Matthew 6:25-34. It’s one of my favorite Bible passages. It makes the point that if God cares for His creation, than we shouldn’t worry whether He will meet our earthly needs. “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
I think a lack of faith is often why we hoard stuff we don’t need. “Well. what if…” we think. Don’t waste your life accumulating stuff! Be simple, humble and meek. When we have a lot of possessions it is easy to become anxious about them, distracted and prideful. This passage reminds us that no good comes from worrying. If we put God first, He will take care of everything else.
If you are struggling with simplicity, learn to let go and let God. Remember that we will spend an eternity in heaven and just a handful of years here on Earth. Our lives won’t be remembered by our collections, they will be remembered by how we lived. If you want to spend more time here on Earth with God, you need to get back to the basics! More stuff means a bigger bill at the end of the month or year. More to grow anxious over. If instead you choose to spend more time doing God’s will in your life, you will reap eternal rewards far greater than you or I can imagine. Make the work you do for God and the eternal kingdom a priority in your life today!