‘This is all I have learned: God make us plain and simple, but we have made ourselves very complicated.’ (Ecclesiastes 7:29 Good News)‘Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify. Simplify.’ (Henry Thoreau)‘Live simply so that others can simply live.’ (Reverend Peter Young)
One day I said to my mom, ‘Mom, we should throw these things away or at least gives it to others.’ She answered, 'No!' I’m referring to bundles of old clothes that she keeps in her closet which consume 1/5 of her rooms’ space. Maybe it’s the way I said it or I’m not sensitive to her feeling, but this simple real life situation had a profound truth about human being; we all have a problem when it comes to simplifying our life.
Simplicity is freedom. It brings joy and balance. Yet, it’s hard to apply especially in today’s get-all-you-can life style, yes, including living in an under development (or is it already a development?) country such as Malaysia.
The discipline of simplicity is truly an inward reality that results in an outward life-style. Simplicity begins in inward focus and proper perspective. If we have a right attitude toward what is important, we will soon realize that living a simplicity life is no more a rules or methods for us to follow but it’ll become a life style. Few years ago when I devoted to live my life in simplicity, I keep this in mind;
What I have I receive as a gift,
What I have is to be cared for by God,
What I have is available for others.
Arthur G. Gish said, ‘We buy things we do not want to impress people we do not like.’ Even so, sometime we buy things we do not need to impress others that we like. 2 years ago I brought a PSP which obviously is not my need because I don’t really play video games. I brought it just to impress my brother and friends. To show them that I can afford to buy it. Early this year, I sold it out!
Simplicity sets possessions in proper perspective. Of course God intends that we should have adequate material provision, but bare this in mind when Jesus said, ‘For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.’ (Matthew 6:21) Inwardly, we must acknowledge that God should be our first priority in our life and ‘Seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.’ (Matthew 6:33)
A highly recommended book by Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline suggests 10 controlling principles (added mine) for the outward expression of simplicity. He warns that these ‘should not be viewed as laws’ but rather an expression toward inward reality as I understand it.
1. First, buy things for their usefulness rather than their status. ‘Stop trying to impress people with your clothes and impress them with your life.’
2. Second, reject anything that is producing an addiction in you. Example; twitter, Facebook, blog, coffee, chocolate, pornography etc. Be in control rather than let it control you. ‘Refuse to be a slave to anything but God.’
3. Third, develop a habit of giving things away. What you have now that you don’t really need that you can give away?
4. Forth, refuse to be propagandized by the custodians of modern gadgetry. Example; unless you can afford it, do you really need to have an iPod?
5. Fifth, learn to enjoy things without owning them. I have a tendency to have my own reference books but actually some books I don’t need to own because I can borrow some from Eu Pui’.
6. Sixth, develop a deeper appreciation for the creation. I love to take a long walks and enjoy nature. While Annette Arulrajah, my boss and friend, love to take beautiful pictures of God’s creations.
7. Seventh, look with a healthy skepticism at all ‘buy now, pay later’ schemes. ‘Take extreme caution before incurring debt’, said the author.
8. Eighth, obey Jesus’ instructions about plain, honest speech. ‘Let what you say be simple ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.’ (Matthew 5:37) Often, I’m guilty of this basic principle.
9. Ninth, reject anything that breeds the oppression of others. Such as racism, sexism, and nationalism.
10. Tenth, shun anything that distracts you from seeking first the Kingdom of God. If this blog consume more time than my passion to read His Word and doing what I’m supposed to do – I’ll not hesitate to stop and take a long pause before I continue it again.
Remember; THINK BIG simplicity is freedom, START SMALL by saying ‘No’ to distractions and temptations that can clutter in your mind and GO DEEP so that you can have room, quiet space and time for God.