SIMPLIFYING YOUR LIFE
We are living in a very changing, complex, and challenging time when it seems difficult to live a biblically simple and unworldly lifestyle. For understandable reasons, our era has been called a time of fast-paced living and high stress levels. So if you are longing for less stress and more calmness in your life, read on.
There is a recommendation that we are to live in “modesty, simplicity, and economy.” These words were penned close to sixty years ago. Do you think these words are still pertinent? If so, considering the complex lifestyle we are challenged with now, how can we live modest and simple lives?
The question has been raised as to why Christians should endeavor to live simply. Does God care how we live? The last few years have been bringing a flood of changing things and circumstances to our era. Some have questioned, what is so wrong with living a progressive lifestyle and utilizing intriguing new inventions? Or is there a problem with redeeming the abundant socializing and travel opportunities? Good questions. What do you think?
A very significant Scripture relating to the subject is Luke 21:34, where Jesus said we must take heed, lest we be overcharged with the cares of this life and distracted from the kingdom of God. Being overcharged would definitely be in contrast to simplicity. This would apply especially to excessive and unnecessary cares of life and earthly responsibilities that one can take on by choice.
Another important teaching is from 2 Timothy 2:4, where it says, “No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.” This Scripture insinuates that being entangled with earthly affairs, or overloaded with too much social encumbrance, is a hindrance to Christian service.
In Hebrews 11:13, we read about making a confession of being “strangers and pilgrims on the earth,” because of being in pursuit of a better country. It insinuates that the people in focus lived low-key lives, because they were servants of God with a heavenly goal.
One more verse about this subject is from Hebrews 12:1, “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” Laying aside weights and hindrances is synonymous with simplicity in lifestyle. Society’s cultural demands can be heavy and burdensome. That is especially so if we do not have the spiritual and personal fortitude to resist the tide of negative general public practices. The line about running the race with patience is an encouragement to not give up and give in to the depraved inclinations of humanity.
Sometimes it is not general society but those of your equals, your peers, that put the pressure on you. Here in North America, many things seem to be running to the max, crowding the limits, and, in general, people appear to have the means to run. That fact can readily create a mental and physical overload. So it is in order to pause and consider what is right for you and your circumstances.
Many people admire and yearn for simplicity, but too many love it only from a distance. The human nature is generally resistant to doing without things for the sake of keeping life more simple. Another thing is that simplicity often requires extra work. Avoiding burdensome complications and stress might be more expensive. Sometimes keeping things simple is actually more costly than other more complex approaches that are purported to be better. Plus, simplicity often requires more time and physical effort. But those seeming disadvantages can pay big dividends along the way—and in the end.
So the questions remain: who really and actually wants to simplify, and how can it be done? If you are, in fact, looking for ways to simplify your life, a list of suggestions follows. Remember, these are not Bible quotes; they are only suggestions. Perhaps the Holy Spirit can stimulate your mind as you read on.
• Evaluate your need or goal to simplify your life. Then consider writing it down for a reminder to yourself and your family.
• Ponder what you could do and changes you could make to make your life more easily manageable. Look for ways to keep control of your ambitions.
• Practice saying no more often. It is a crucial necessity for simplifying. Learn to want less.
• Search for ways to eliminate clutter. This would apply in things, mind-set, and lifestyle habits.
• Take control of your communications. With the many present-day means and ease of communicating, this has become a particular challenge.
• Exercise restraint in media use and intake. The numerous available forms of news and general media access can unintentionally use up your valuable time, clutter the mind, and mess up the day.
• Pause sometimes and think about the advantages and blessings you already have. Always straining for things one does not have becomes a source of stress and worry.
• Contentment is closely connected with simplicity. Consider honestly how and with what you are expecting to find contentment in life.
• Practice self-control. Disciplined routine can be a big help in keeping things running more smoothly and with much less stress.
• Let go of desires to do things beyond your ability or beyond your means. Avoid trying to do too many things at once. Endeavor to understand and acknowledge your own limits of common sense.
• Control your spending. Overspending your earning ability (even for legitimate things) causes lots of stress and will, sooner or later, cause complicated financial difficulties.
• Forget about keeping up with the Joneses (those people who seem to have everything). For everyone, there comes a point when enough is enough. Try to find out where that point is for you, and choose to stop there.
• Do not plan too many things. Every day has only so many hours. In your plans, allow sufficient time, and some margin, for the unexpected.
• Stay current. Putting things off and allowing tasks and obligations to pile up makes life cumbersome.
This list is certainly not all inclusive. You might disagree with some of the suggestions. Some of them might not apply to your circumstances. Other things that you should do may not be in the list. So keep your mind open for personal understanding and revelation of God’s will for your life.
Summing it up, a simple lifestyle does not automatically make one holy, but according to the Bible, undue earthly encumbrances are a hindrance to spiritual health and vitality. Excessive cares and involvements will interfere with service to God and can greatly endanger positive results at the end. So it is important to seek a God-sanctioned balance in earthly things and activities.
Strive for the state of mind that will allow you to honestly sing, “Have Thine own way, Lord.” Such surrender will surely help to reduce one’s stress level.
Now it is up to the reader to decipher what the Lord’s will and plan is for his life. May Lord bless your personal ponderings and your discussions with family and friends. Perhaps you will gain some new or improved sense of direction to live by.
Messenger of Truth, 2016, No. 13