Simplicity: It's a word often used in today's world. Minimalism is trending, and "the simple life" is dangerously close to idolization for most. Pinterest and Instagram are full of examples and tutorials on how to simplify. The magazine, Real Simple, reaches approximately 8.6 million readers a month (realsimple.com). Clearly, the world hungers for a simplified life. It longs to release the stresses of a cluttered existence. This is a wonderful thing.
Unfortunately, the worldly resources and guides to simplicity only serve to feed consumerism. We are wooed to believe that purchasing organizational tools and more efficient products will fill the hole in our being.
Like many other valuable words, the meaning of simplicity has been harshly warped by worldly culture. The world defines simplicity as the organization of possessions, the urge to gain better products rather than more, and it requires that we make purchases in order to achieve a simplified life. It is self-focused, feeding the desire for higher status and the constant search for the best products.
This worldly definition distracts from the purpose of simplicity that Jesus intends–the simplicity that requires an intentional lifestyle and constant death to selfish desires, an existence that is an organic result of an interactive life with God. The enemy uses such subtle shifts in definition to distract from the truth.
The truth is that simplicity is not just less stuff–it is eyes so focused on Jesus that there is no choice but to daily die to self and humbly abide in His presence (Hebrews 12:1-2).
Simplicity is being authentic. It is throwing off the self that competes, the self that aims to impress, and living constantly as the true self that is secure in her identity as God's perfectly designed daughter–an heir to the throne.
Simplicity is choosing words wisely and with intention, uttering "only such a word as is good for the edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear" (Ephesians 4:29). Intentional speech is to flee from gossip and refrain from boasting and to uplift with only words that are necessary, true, and uplifting. Simplicity is to trust that God will provide what is needed and to work to store treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:19-21). In Jesus-centered simplicity, faith replaces the need for something more or something better.
Simplicity requires a daily refusal to participate in the blind consumption and compulsion that so encompass this world. It requires recognition that giving into small, seemingly harmless, culturally acceptable temptations leads to enslavement. Enslavement that we, as daughters of the King, are given the power to escape and avoid.
Godly simplicity demands discipline, but sister, you will be rewarded!
Current church culture often solely emphasizes engagement disciplines such as prayer, Bible study, fellowship, and worship. These are all wonderful and necessary disciplines, but without a balance of abstinence disciplines there is no room for transformation. Abstinence disciplines such as solitude, fasting, frugality, and sacrifice allow us to empty ourselves and invite God in. We must empty ourselves in order to be filled.
True simplicity is much less glamorous than what the world makes simplicity seem to be. A shopping cart full of cute boxes, files, and planners is a lot more fun than a day of silence. Nevertheless, these abstinence disciplines train us to abide in Jesus and live a life full of joy and grace; no amount of organizational purchases can compare.
For Lent this year, I made a commitment to avoid shopping. I will admit that I failed several times over the forty days; luckily, I serve a God who is quick to forgive and full of compassion. By dying to my desire to shop on almost a daily basis, I gave God room to show me the clutter in my heart. He revealed to me not only that I had an unhealthy reliance on shopping trips to improve my mood and feed my need for attention but that He provides in unexpected and miraculous ways when given the space to do so. For example, I wanted to buy an amber teething necklace for my baby daughter. It took every ounce of willpower to suppress the urge to log on to Amazon and purchase one right as the desire struck. I spent the time I would have spent researching products studying the Bible and enjoying a coffee. Just one week later, an amber teething necklace arrived in a little brown box at my door. My mom had decided to send it to my daughter without any prompting from me. Just goes to show that when we give God the opportunity, He often chooses to bless us and bless others in the process. It brought my mom so much joy to have gifted her granddaughter well, and I love that!
These practices of abstinence teach us to carry our cross, to trust God to provide for our needs (and sometimes our wants too), and to empty ourselves in order to fill others. An intentional life is a blessed life. Don't allow the enemy to shift your perspective and lead your thoughts into line with the rest of the world.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.Matthew 11:28
Jesus invites you today to exhale what is unnecessary as you inhale life from God. See the beauty in the ordinary as a gift from your Father. Live simply to give more. Be authentic, be loving, be content. And enjoy!