Simple living can help us focus on demonstrating the value of Jesus.
Let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. – Hebrews 12:1
Have you ever asked how you might accomplish more for the Kingdom? Simple living is at least part of the answer. This allows us to be more focused on what’s most important. Instead of continually being preoccupied with things that distract, streamlining life can position 0ur lives for Kingdom work.
With cars, internet, vacations, computers, cell-phones, medical costs, entertainment, eating out, toys, clothes, pets, houses, real estate taxes, insurance, upkeep on the stuff we own, and so on, we spend lots of money. Each of us has a certain personal standard of living or, as I call it, a lifestyle disposition.
I use the term “lifestyle disposition” because it goes beyond the money. It includes the far-reaching effects of our spending habits like time, energy, stress/health, availability, and so forth. These are valuable resources that either serve our priorities or detract from them. And simple living can free up our resources.
The Bible seems to address simple living through the example of Jesus and the need for believers to have a singular focus in life. It’s important to have a life that is not compromised by detracting thought or sin or motive or stuff. Instead, we should have a life all about living for Jesus. (Psalm 1:2; Joshua 1:8; Matthew 6:24; 1 Corinthians 7:35; 2 Timothy 2:4)
In Richard Swenson’s book Margin, he makes this interesting observation:
“[Jesus] was born with nothing, lived with little, and died with nothing. His simplicity was not accidental. Jesus could have chosen any standard, yet He chose to live simply.” – Richard A. Swenson, MD (p171)
There is only so much “space” in our lives. Through a simple lifestyle, we can use more of that “space” for the mission we’re on. If we long to be engaged in a serving Christ with all we have and are, we need to get rid of things that would slow us down.
“Out of the freedom from worry that God’s generosity provides comes an impulse toward simplicity rather than accumulation.” – John Piper, A Wartime Analogy
No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. – 2 Timothy 2:4
Seeing life through the eyes of a soldier is a good way to look at simple living. While life may not be easy, the basic needs are provided so he can focus on the mission. Food, clothing, shelter, medicine, etc. are provided in such a way that the focus can stay on the assignment. With so much at stake, can you imagine the outcome if all soldiers were distracted by things that were not all that important? Lives would be lost and the mission would fail.
Paul’s words to Timothy here ask him to focus on the life he is to live and the task at hand. Don’t get caught up in things that compromise the mission.
Being content with what we have goes hand-in-hand with simple living. Finding fulfillment in Jesus and his promises should sustain us. But when he’s not enough we fill the void with distraction and time-consuming obligations. In his book, Chasing Contentment, Eric Raymond says this:
Contentment is the abiding ‘Amen’ of our joy. It speaks in the present tense, saying: ‘I am tasting and I am seeing that the Lord is good. (p46)
Keep your life free from the love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” – Hebrews 13:5
But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. – 1 Timothy 6:6-8
You might be tempted to think that life just isn’t simple. And that’s exactly my point. Life has enough distraction in the best scenario so we must make a real effort if we’re going to embrace simple living.