I talk a lot about simplicity here. Obviously!
But what do I mean by that term? And, especially as a Christian woman, how do I view that simplicity in light of what the Bible says?
I was thinking through this the other day (I actually think about it quite a bit) and had a few hopefully helpful thoughts about it. I’m not sure I can give a full, definitive answer on what simplicity should be for each person; I’m sure that it will depend on many situations. But for me, this is what I believe simplicity means for my life from a Scriptural standpoint.
All I Need is Christ
This is the most important point I want to bring out right away. All we truly need is Christ. We absolutely have to live with this as a central reality as believers! And it’s hard some days! Stuff, things we love, worldly possessions can so easily clutter our desires to know Jesus better. Busy lives full of meaningless things (fun and beautiful as they may be!) are hindrances if they don’t draw us closer to Christ! It’s only a life full of purpose and with freedom from worldly possessions that is glorifying to God.
What do I mean by “freedom from worldly possessions?” Am I advocating you sell all of your stuff? Well, if that will help you love Christ more fully, then maybe. But, no, that’s not generally what I’m advocating. My question is, are you free from your stuff? As in, how do you view it? Is it yours, or God’s? Are you holding it with open hands and a soft heart, willing to give it up in a heartbeat if God asks? Or are you clenching it tightly in your fists, finding your fulfillment and happiness in it, and unwilling to let it go? This is what I mean by freedom; you have to live and own things with a fluidity that would easily allow you to let go if God called you to.
Simply put, if you’re not able to seek Christ and his kingdom first, if there’s too much “clutter” in the way, your life is not simple enough. Clutter can be both physical and spiritual. Things like possessions, diets, ball games, school events, boxes in the basement, TV, books, blogs, social media, jealousies, contentions, anger, anxiety… all of that and so much more can clutter up our houses, minds, and hearts.
An exercise for you: sit down and make a list of all the things in your life that feel heavy. For me right now it’s the stuff in the basement and garage I want to get rid of. It’s the home improvements still needing done. It’s the questions about whether we will live in this house much longer. It’s the comparisons and jealousies I struggle with often. It’s the impatience and lack of self-control I often face with my children. It’s impatience to see my small business grow more!
I’ve got stuff too. We’ve got to be busy about weeding these things our of our hearts and homes. They suffocate our desires for God. They suck our passion and joy away. Some things can’t be completely removed, I understand! I can’t just fix all the things about my house, for instance, but I can give that to God and pray for contentment. That’s a form of simplifying. It’s letting go of something I don’t want in my life (anxiety and stress) and realizing there are so many more important things than how my home looks. How my heart looks, for instance!
Jesus lived simply
I don’t want to take this one too far, but I do think there is a bit of an example to be learned here. Jesus was a simple man, in many ways. He didn’t live in a giant house with many rooms. In fact, he often had no place to lay his head, as he said in Matt 8:20. I’m certainly not advocating that we all go sell our homes and live on the streets. But I do think we can live by Christ’s example of having few worldly possessions to tie us down. We should live as sojourners, as people passing through this life, just as Jesus did. And from that example, I draw some comparisons with how I ought to live.
Jesus was concerned about much bigger matters than house and home. Jesus was on a journey through his life to know God and make God known. That’s our calling, too! If we find that our homes and things are taking too much priority then perhaps it’s time for a major change?
As Women, We’re Called to Love Our Homes and Families Well
Titus 2:5 says young women are to be “sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.” I take heart from this! I see that I can’t just let my home fall apart. I must work at home, for the joy of my family and for the glory of God. There’s no verse that tells us exactly how we are to do that, and I think that’s completely fine! We are all so unique and different, and I think God allows for those many differences in our personalities. He created them, after all!
Some women may be more gifted in homemaking than others, and that’s okay, but the point is we are called to do it. We are called to work joyfully at home. I believe that means making our homes pleasant for our families. I believe it means making the most of what we are given by God with the creativity and strengths he’s given us.
I don’t think simplifying means we must remove everything pretty and lovely and fun and enjoyable about our lives at all. I don’t think it means we can’t enjoy our homes! In fact, one of the things that brings me great joy is to make my home beautiful and comfortable for my family! But it does come down to priorities, contentment, and whether or not my home and my things are drawing me nearer to God. It’s something I have to be continually evaluating in my own life!
The Proverbs 31 Wife Kept a Wonderful, Beautiful Home
I love reading about the woman in Proverbs 31. She’s such a model to follow! Pretty unattainable in many ways, I sometimes think! She’s like the perfect woman!
I’m probably never going to be able to measure up to this woman completely, but I do want to implement some of the things she’s praised for! A few things I admire:
- She works hard with her hands
- She provides good quality food for her family
- She clothes her family well
- She’s compassionate to the poor
- She’s generous
- She is sensible and shrewd
- She’s a business woman and brings in a profit
- She’s not lazy, but rises early to provide food to her household
- She doesn’t fear the Winter because her family is clothed in Scarlet
- The heart of her husband trusts her, she always does him good
- Her children call her blessed
- She knows that charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised
This woman is the epitome of homemaking bliss! I stand in awe of how beautiful she is in her many good deeds. And I draw from her example that it is a beautiful thing for a woman to love her family and provide good, pleasing things for them. I see that it’s a pleasing thing to her husband as well.
Beware of Putting Minimalism or Simplicity Above Christ
It can be a struggle to not make too much of a simple-living lifestyle. I sometimes feel a sort of pride, a sort of fulfillment in the lifestyle. And while I think it’s okay to be pleased with the type of life you live, there’s a danger that you can make it more of an idol in your life than you mean to.
At least, I struggle with that from time to time. I find myself thinking about and planning more about my home and my “simplifying” than I do spending time seeking God’s kingdom or the good of my brothers and sisters in Christ. It can take away from Bible reading and prayer. If I’m not careful, I can obsess over it. And I know that it’s not pleasing to the Lord in those moments!
I think living simply has definitely helped me to love Christ more deeply! But I think, as with anything, the temptation is there to make too much of a good thing. So, this is simply a cautionary thought that we must be willing to give even our simple lifestyle up, too, if God asks it.
Simplicity, in and of itself, is nothing apart from Christ.
Even Healthy Eating and Simple Diets Aren’t the End-All, Be-All of Our Lives
Another area of struggle for me is my eating lifestyle. That’s really something I think a lot about! We eat very clean, we try to cut out refined foods and sugars and we try to eat mostly whole, nourishing foods. And I love it! But even this can be a stumbling block for me if I give it too much space in my mind and heart.
When it really comes down to it, would I give it up, if Jesus asked me to? Would I be willing to eat things I never eat for the sake of the Gospel? Is my pursuing my ideal body and my health more important that pursuing God’s kingdom? It’s a hard question for me! Because I’m not sure I could always say yes. I need to, but it’s a battle in my mind to not make more of my health than I should. Even my health and the health of my family are merely good gifts from God. They are not rights. They are not something I should obsess over, but merely enjoy and praise God for.
Food for thought, huh?
Are we Called to Live Simply?
I think so.
I don’t think it will look the same for everyone. But I do think we should all be striving to simplify our lives as much as possible.
For some it might look like downsizing and moving to a smaller home.
For some it might look like cutting out unnecessary extra-curricular activities that cause tons of extra driving time.
For some it might mean weeding through some heart issues that are cluttering your mind and heart, distracting your from Jesus.
For some it might look like simplifying and creating a healthier eating lifestyle.
And for some it might look like taking a lot of stuff to the thrift store!
So, all of that to say, I believe simplicity in our lives is a great thing, but must be viewed through the proper lens of Scripture and God’s desires for his people.
I’d like to do a post soon on some simple ways to simplify your home, but for now this is something to think on! Hope it is encouraging to you!