The Spiritual Discipline of simplicity is probably one of the harder disciplines to develop. There are so many conflicting messages about how we're supposed to live that keeping our faith simple gets lost. How to we strip away all the complications to get back to living by the basics so that all the rest will just fall into place?
Jesus Came to Make it Simpler
When we look at developing the spiritual discipline of simplicity, we would be doing a disservice by not looking at Jesus' ministry. Yes, God sent His son to die for our sins, but one thing Jesus did while He was here on earth was set down some important lessons for keeping our faith pretty basic. From leading us back to the Ten Commandments, to giving us the beatitudes, to demonstrating the Golden Rule…we learn that man can sometimes complicate living righteously.
Simplicity as an Internal Spiritual Discipline
We all have that inner voice that can complicate our faith. It's there inside our heads asking all the questions that can muddle our decision making process. Sometimes making the right decisions about what to do means taking our beliefs down to the simplest building blocks.
There are tools we can use to quiet our inner voices. Meditation is a great way to get away from the world and focus. Prayer is a tool that allows us to have a conversation with God and get some clarity. Fasting is another method of narrowing down our focus.
Think of developing the spiritual discipline of simplicity as a way to clean house, but this time it's cleaning house in your own head. Start polishing your beliefs and get rid of the things that clutter and cloud your judgement. If you're confused, go to the source - your Bible - and read up on what's bothering you. Or take some time in solitude to really reflect on things without the outside influences. Simplicity means making things clearer, cleaner, easier to understand. Yet this is a discipline that also means becoming more convicted in your core values.
Simplicity as an External Spiritual Discipline
As you develop an internal simplicity, the external demonstration needs to follow. No matter what, we live in a society that values things. People think that to be the best you must have the most, be the highest paid, get all the awards, be the most popular. Yet, what does that do for you in the long run? When our lives pass on the earth, will those "things" get us anywhere? This message is what Jesus was trying to get across. There is far more to living a life for God, and it starts by keeping your life simple.
There is a reason why nuns, priests, and monks have to give up all their possessions. Jesus made in clear that the path to Heaven was far more difficult for the rich than the poor. Things can cloud our judgement. This is not to say that everyone has to give up everything they have right now to be righteous. Yet it is to say that we must keep things in a proper perspective. They are, after all, just things. Status on earth is not status in Heaven. This is why developing a strong sense of simplicity can help keep us from getting so caught up in the "next new thing" and more caught up in Jesus.
What the Spiritual Discipline of Simplicity Does
When we develop the spiritual discipline of simplicity both internally and externally, we also gain certain abilities and lose other destructive needs:
- We begin to speak in simple truths that are easy for us to live by and others to understand.
- We lose the destructive need to constantly top or be better than others.
- We lose a need for temporal things. We may like the newest gadget or tool, but we won't sacrifice everything to get it until we're ready.
- We start giving to others out of a place of joy and willingness in our hearts. We become more hospitable and kind.
- We develop a sense of gratitude for everything we do have.