March 7, 2022

This Is The Way To Simplicity

But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.  1 Timothy 6:8

The American humorist, Mark Twain, wrote, “Civilization is a limitless multiplication of unnecessary necessities.”  I wonder what old Twain would have said had he been alive today.  Never before has the consumer been confronted with so many choices.

An anthropologist friend of mine points out that civilizations tend to move from the simple agrarian society to the industrial, complex society which eventually collapses under the burden of its own weight and complexity.  I think it is fair to say that never before has a generation had more “things” than the present one, yet with all of the “toys” which the dawn of the digital age has presented us with–from smart phones to light bulbs we talk to, we are consuming more pain killers for headaches, and anti-depressants than ever before.  If “more is better” then, surely, we would be on the threshold of an unprecedented utopia, but it just has not worked that way.

Having less is better when it brings more simplicity, which produces greater peace of mind and happiness.  When a builder has a problem with a house he is constructing, he goes to the blueprint.  Remember the adage, “When everything fails, read the instructions.”  Right?  That is part of the reason we need to think through the complexity of life styles and the pressures of living today.

Jesus Christ said, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head” (Matthew 8:20).  He owned no real estate, though the whole world was His.  He borrowed another man’s boat to row on Galilee, though on occasion, not having a boat, He simply walked on the surface of the water in the power of God the Spirit.  The only thing that we know for certain which He possessed was a seamless robe which the soldiers took from Him and gambled to see who would get it.

What did He have that we seldom have?  Two things impress me:  One–peace and tranquility, and two–simplicity.  It has been my observation that some of the richest men in the world were some of the most unhappy, proving that money cannot buy happiness.  Jean Paul Getty, once the richest man in the world, said he would gladly give all of his money for a happy home; but, of course, he did not take the step to experiment with the possibility.  Money had him in its grip.

This is not to suggest that the absence of money–poverty–would produce happiness, but what Jesus taught is that happiness does not come from the abundance of things which money will buy.  What He did have, which we desperately need, is simplicity.  In his book, Freedom of Simplicity, the gifted writer Richard Foster contends that simplicity is not something that we do; it is something that we are.  “Seek simplicity, and trust it,” advised the English philosopher, Alfred North Whitehead.

Simplicity brings a contentment which puts psychiatrists out of business, along with a host of entertainers and entrepreneurs who are convincing us that what we have or what we hear or see brings happiness.  Simplicity begins to put us in tune with the divine harmony of nature, and that is not to suggest that nature is God. It simply means that we learn to “be still” and know that He is God–that we shut out the din and noise of stressful accumulating and tending to what we own, to hear His voice saying, “This is the way, walk in it.”

Yes, it is time to strip away the veneer of the material and discover the simplicity of walking in the footsteps of Jesus Christ.  Simplicity demands living within your means–financially, emotionally, and physically.  It is God’s antidote to the pressures of life today.  Think about it.

Resource Reading:  Isaiah 30:15-26