The Discipline of Simplicity
The Christian life is meant to be marked by simplicity. Jesus summed up our purpose with two statements: love God and love people. But in our humanity we have made complex what God designed to be peaceful, purposeful, and simple. A. W. Tozer remarks in The Pursuit of God, “Every age has its own characteristics. Right now we are in an age of religious complexity. The simplicity which is in Christ is rarely found among us. In its stead are programs, methods, organizations and a world of nervous activities which occupy time and attention but can never satisfy the longing of the heart. The shallowness of our inner experience, the hollowness of our worship, and that servile imitation of the world which marks our promotional methods all testify that we in this day, know God only imperfectly, and the peace of God scarcely at all. If we would find God amid all the religious externals, we must first determine to find Him, and then proceed in the way of simplicity.” May we discover the peace and joy that come from pursuing a simple Christianity this week.
Scripture:“For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you.” >2 Corinthians 1:12
Often, we are kept from living lives marked by the joy and peace of our heavenly Father because of our continual pursuit for more. Humanity’s first sin was pursuing more than God intended for us, and the enemy continues to entice us with that temptation today. A core value of the world is more: more money, more fame, more friends, more success, more happiness, more possessions, more of anything, because we feel dissatisfied with our lives. We are constantly grabbing for that which will never fully satisfy in the present or lead us to a lifestyle of continual satisfaction.
Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 1:12, “For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you.” Simplicity is a God-given discipline that prunes the dead branches of waste that effectually deplete us of the energy, time, and provision with which God has blessed us. When we make the decision to stop pursuing more, we step in line with the Spirit and place our trust and faith in God rather than our own understanding.
You see, at the core of a continual pursuit for more is a lack of faith in God’s goodness. If we truly believed God provides all we need, we would never step outside his provision and strive for more. Adam and Eve questioned God’s goodness and thereby brought the destructive nature of sin into humanity. They decided for themselves what was enough rather than trusting God to know what was best for them.
Our own forbidden fruit takes on all sorts of forms. We work our fingers to the bone for a taste of greater success all the while forgetting who it is we are to work for in the first place. We take God-given financial provision and waste it on worldly pleasures rather than investing it into that which will actually satisfy us. We take what we receive from God and use it to finance self-indulgence rather than sharing it with those whom God wanted to use us to bless from the beginning. And we take the valuable resource of time and waste it on pursuits that were never God’s intention to begin with.
We desperately need transformation and training in the discipline of simplicity. In order to experience joy and peace that transcends circumstances and position ourselves through faithfulness to receive more of what God longs to give, we must offer our time, energy, and money to God and follow the guidance of his Spirit and word.
Matthew 6:21 says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Take time in guided prayer placing all your treasure in the only place that can offer you eternal investment: with your heavenly Father.
1. Meditate on the importance of simplicity and the destructive pursuit of more.
“No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” >Luke 16:13
“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” >Ephesians 5:15-17
2. Reflect on areas of your life that are not marked by simplicity. Ask the Spirit to convict you of anything you need to get rid of. It’s incredibly important to note the difference between guilt and conviction. Conviction from the Spirit is always done in love and will always bring you inner peace and joy as you follow through in obedience.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” >Galatians 5:22-23
3. Commit to ending the pursuit of more by trusting in the provision and goodness of your heavenly Father. Place your trust in him alone, and ask him to guide you into a lifestyle of simplicity.
“Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”>Matthew 6:31-33
“For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you.” >2 Corinthians 1:12
God has different plans for each of his children. He intends for some to live in poverty with absolutely no possessions, while others he wants to bless in abundance that they may have the privilege of co-laboring with him in blessing others. Scripture is clear that our God gives good and perfect gifts. He loves to bless his children. To live simply, we just need to live in continual relationship with the Holy Spirit and allow him to show us what gifts are from him and whether they are for our benefit or pleasure or to give away to others. May you find greater depths of peace as you grow in trusting God and following the perfect and abundant leadership of the Holy Spirit.
Extended Reading: 2 Corinthians 1
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