The Spiritual Discipline of Simplicity
“For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.” 1 Corinthians 14:33
When we say yes to one thing, we are also saying thousands of nos to other things.
As a natural “yes” person who wants to say yes to everything and to have it all, this is a hard reality for me. Maybe this is why it’s so hard for me to pick a place to go out to dinner. There are so many options it overwhelms me.
Saying yes to our favorite taco spot means saying no to barbecue, italian, and literally every other restaurant in Nashville.
I like keeping my options open. But sometimes, having too many options can be overwhelming and hurt more than it helps.
I love this verse because it reminds me that God doesn’t want us to walk in a way that’s confused or directionless. His way is one of peace, and I think often that means walking in peace in the one “yes” we are saying, and all of the “nos” we simultaneously say with that “yes.”
In our modern society, we have so many more options than people used to. The roads in Nashville still make no sense to me. I use the map on my phone to get anywhere that’s further than about ten minutes away. The other day while I was diligently watching my map and letting it lead me, I started to think about how this would be impossible a few decades ago.
Back then, you couldn’t really just type in an address and go. Instead, people were a lot closer to home. I wonder sometimes if that was a bad thing.
We have so many options now, we can go and see anyone, we can visit any church, we can get to know people across town easily, that we forget to get to know our neighbors.
When travel was difficult and people didn’t have a choice to go find other people, they had to learn to love the people who were near to them and within their community.
So maybe I’m highly romanticizing the past and maybe I’ve lost you at this point, but here’s my thought.
Today, we can intentionally limit our options and I actually think that it makes our lives richer and it glorifies God.
Some people will call it “simple living” but I’m going to call it “the spiritual discipline of simplicity.”
Simplicity is worth pursuing because it unlocks clarity. And God is not a God of confusion, but a God of peace.
When we have clarity, we avoid confusion and uncertainty and instead can live in the peace of Jesus.
When we choose to practice simplicity in our daily lives, whether that’s quitting multi-tasking, decluttering and getting rid of some possessions, or creating space for more “simple” moments throughout your week like taking your dog for a long walk, it invites us into a richer walk with God.
When we have less options, there’s less overwhelm. There’s less clutter in our minds, and less busyness in our schedules.
With the space we’ve then created in our lives physically because we’ve chosen less—less TV, less chick-fil-a drive thru dinners, less scrolling on social media, less online shopping—we are actually able to have more of God.
More time to read the Word, more dinners with our spouse or roommates, more thoughtful conversations, and more consumption of God’s Spirit rather than a substitute.
Like I mentioned before, when we say yes to one thing, we are saying no to so many other things.
When we practice simplicity as a discipline, we are saying no to distractions, no to excessivity, no to clutter in our minds and in our lives, and we are saying yes to the peaceful, uncluttered life with God.
If you’ve subscribed to “Threshold” already, I know you are interested in Jesus or you’ve already said “yes” to Him. Here, our focus is “entering into a holy place.”
We can’t really do that if we don’t have time or space for it. Saying “yes” to Jesus, as you might already know and have experienced, means saying “no” to lots of other things.
But it’s so worth it right?
So my challenge for you this morning is to take a little audit of your life.
Where could you choose to have less so God can give you more?
-In what areas do you have unnecessary excess in your life?
-If you had more space or time, what would you fill it with?
-Brainstorm and write down ideas of how you could practice simplicity this week. Be realistic and think of ways that would be manageable.
Implement the practice you brainstormed from above. Examples might be choosing to watch TV only on certain days, limiting social media consumption, limiting impulse buys (hey Target...) or going on regular walks without technology. You get the idea!
Hey Jesus, thank you for setting the example for us in how to pursue the Father through certain practices and disciplines. Help us to approach them with curiosity and creativity. Give us confidence that when we choose to fill our time with less, you are faithful to give us more. Pour out more of your Spirit and surround us with more of your presence this week. Amen.