Saturday, October 10, 2009

Simplicity-An Outward Discipline

Simplicity—a divine word if only it can be lived out. Sometimes, I dream of having a life-uniform that's wash and wear and mine would have an elastic waist. I’d have one pair of comfortable shoes (matching of course, have to give in to my girlie whims). I’d also like just enough living space to function successfully, add a couple of forks and plates and then I could live a simple life, right? Not necessarily.

This week, we’ll look at the outward Christian discipline of simplicity (based on an inward standard). A friend said, “I wish manufacturers would stop making all the stuff we don’t need.” But owning fewer things does not mean we are living simply.

The Bible neither endorses drastic denial of self or a self-absorbed pampered life. Somewhere in the middle is a good place to live.

Following are Bible precepts which direct a life of simplicity. First, God created and owns the earth: “The earth is the LORD’S, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it” (Psalm 24:1). The earth and all we have is on loan from God, for our use but not abuse.

Second, God made the earth to bless us with food, beauty and enjoyment—lands of “milk and honey” to be enjoyed. Thanksgiving to God for the earth and its provisions is the proper mindset rather than look at my green thumb garden that I grew all by myself.

Third, Cyndy Salzmann, known as America’s Clutter Coach, says, “You are not your stuff.” Whatever is on loan to you from God does not define you. What if you lost all monies and your home today? What sort of person would you be without your props and stuff?

If lives are defined by the gracious acceptance that God made, God loans, and we are not our stuff, then we have a platform to live simply. Not self-imposed poverty. Not hoarding. We enjoy God’s gifts as loans and share with others.

All of that said, we live in a culture of indulgence, and our overstuffed homes, schedules, and bodies give witness to cluttered lives, the opposite of simplicity. Richard Foster says, “We are trapped in a maze of competing attachments.” We are bombarded with ads to buy more, eat more, do more, so many things latching on to us that we could resemble the tinker man with all his pots and pans piled on his shoulders.

Parent coach Leslie Wilson says a child of five is only able to keep up with two-five toys per year of age. A five year old can be responsible for 10 to 25 items (puzzles, crayons, books, and toys), but not 125. We train them early toward a cluttered life and an attachment to things.

This week, meditate on Richard Foster’s guidelines for simple living, and celebrate the discipline of simplicity: buy according to need not status; reject anything producing addiction; develop giving-away habit; avoid gadgets, enjoy without owning (use libraries and public parks); appreciate creation; be skeptical of incurring debt; use honest speech; do not oppress others; and seek God’s kingdom.

May God bless you as you seek to live simply this week.

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