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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Living Simply, Part I


I have a post on my heart that’s been brewing for some time now. I’ve been mulling it over and seeking the Lord on this subject for many months.

I feel like I’m finally ready to share my heart on this matter – but first, I’m hoping to hear from YOU. If you’re so brave to take a stab, will you tell me… how do you define the phrase –“ Living Simply?”

It’s a phrase that Christians like to throw around. Myself included. But what do those two words really mean and how do we apply them to our everyday lives?
In order to live simply, is there an invisible line that a Christian should not cross? Is there a list of rules we should follow in order to live a Biblically appropriate lifestyle? I hope not… because those things sound pretty legalistic to me.

And yet – what’s the alternative? Should everyone just “do what is right in his own eyes,” as was done in the time of the Judges? Because that doesn’t sound quite right either.
I pose these questions in all seriousness – because I really don’t know the answers. I pray that you’ll consider these words and send me your thoughts in the comments below.

What does it mean to you to “live simply?”
And is simplicity a call on the life of every Christian – or only on those who “feel called” to live that way?

I’ll post again on this subject next week and let you know what we’ve come up with…

14 comments:

Steph Moon said...

My husband and I have been having this same discussion lately. We don't have any answers right now, but know that we feel led to live differently. I'm looking forward to reading the comments and will be checking back next week to see your take on the matter. :)

ASH said...

When you say "living simply," I'm not sure if you're referring to "stuff" or busyness or what, but I'm going to respond to your question as if you are referring to "stuff" = ) Since I'm only 21, I'm sure "living simply" looks a lot different for me than for a lot of people. However, I made the realization last year that now is the time for me to make decisions that will affect my future significantly in this area. I purposefully choose not to "store up treasures" here on earth...not only because I don't need them, but also because I want to be ready to "GO!" whenever and wherever God calls me. That said, I don't have a family or children, so it is probably a lot easier for me to do this than a lot of people who do have children and families. I want to start the pattern now, though, so that if God does bless me with a family someday, I don't have to backtrack. So what does "living simply" look like for me? Basically, it means only having "stuff" I use. I'm not perfect, for sure, but for the most part I don't have much to my name! I especially try to follow this with clothing. After all, there are only 7 days in a week. Why do we need outfits for the entire year? My motto is, "Wear what you have, and have what you wear." Doesn't make for a closet full of fashion, but it works for me! If you are talking about something completely different when you refer to "living simply," forgive me for rambling and feel free to delete my comment = )

anything but LoKEY said...

Recently made changes in this area and this is the conclusion I believe I have come to thus far. (However, I could totally be missing it and change my mind next week;)

I believe living simply is to prioritize your life according to the calling God has placed on your life. To trim the fat (so to speak) that is a distraction from what you believe God has gifted you to do and called you to according to His purpose. To edit distractions and live free of the stress of "keeping up." This may be different and it may be the same for people but my only priority is me and my family and His calling for us.

However, I don't just think that it is something you are called to do I think it is something you are willing to do. Then, you let God direct you as to what things you should do.

For instance, we were willing to adopt not just led. Now, I need to be led by the Holy Spirit but I can't use that as an excuse not to be obedient to what I know God's Word says.

ex. "Well, I just didn't feel led to go work in the nursery."

And I believe less TV and electronics is good for my family because I desire less distractions and I have an acquired goal for this large family (and I can be easily distracted) so I make my choices accordingly. I can't however end up with a particular standard or then I become judgemental and as soon as I have made rules I will break them.

Thank God for His grace. These are things we have recently been discussing where choices concerning TV time and shows, electronics usage and music with our family. Some of my very dear Christian friends have very different views. But, I know how I want our life to be lived and we are going to prioritize accordingly.

I hope this didn't ramble and that I didn't say too much, but I am on the same vein of thought. You got me started. ;)

katie d said...

here's a post a wrote a little while back with some thoughts about simplicity.

http://weelittlemonkeys.blogspot.com/2011/01/confessions-of-seminary-wife-simplicity.html

apparently there's a shout out to a certain crazy blog if you read all the way to the end ;)

The Fruitful Family said...

Okay, though I've already discussed my situation with One Particular Crazy Woman already, I feel led to spek publically (and yesthe rise is my own blog to follow!).

We are smack dab in the middle of this struggle. With an already large family and the addition of one (or two) in the next year or so, it makes since (in the world's eyes) to move to a bigger house with more bedrooms and a large yard.
And since I'm married to a professional, we are supposed to put our kids in nice private schools, drive really spiffy cars and dress in the latest, cutesy styles.

But after many months, even years, of struggling with these issues, we finally had a spirit victory tonight.

We are going to stay in our nice "little" house with no yard where all of our girls share rooms, we are going to SERIOUSLY consider keeping our girls home for school and we are striving to pay off all debt (including our mortgage) in the next few years.

Crazy, you say?

Doubt Jesus would say so. We want to be in a position to bless others in the Kingdom when they are in need. We want to be ready to go when God calls. We don't want to be burdened with things, stuff, bigger houses, larger mortgages. We never want to say to someone, "I'd love to help, but we just can't"

This High Calling said...

One of the things we've been talking about with living simply is that aspect of being"centered." I don't mean that in a post-modern sort of way, but the truth that the weight of every decision, focus, expense - all of it is weighed against the call of Christ.

Practically...

From the beginning, by God's grace, we've been challenged to not allow our standard of living to increase with our income. This has been really freeing.

However, we do feel all believers all called to simplicity in the definition of Christ-centeredness and being Christ-driven, but we also believe we must be careful of judging, while continuing to challenge one another in love. There are so many ways and places to struggle with simplicity; it's one of those areas we'll always be stretched in, and will never fully arrive this side of heaven.

Heath said...

All I know is when I lived in Africa for a year adopting Neema, we had barely any "stuff" and a lot of time. We had no TV, no microwave, no iphone, much of the time we didn't even have electricity. It was not wise to leave the house after dark so there was just a lot of "together" time because there was nothing really else to do. Being back in Atlanta, I am so grateful to never come home and wonder if I'm going to have running water, im thankful for washing machines, dishwashers, and im thankful for hot showers and water pressure, but on the other hand I deeply miss afternoon walks through wild flowers, peeling vegetables with neighbors, bubble dance offs, long tea parties - and whatever else we could come up with. And my time with God. How much richer it was when my schedule was not chocked full. I could still do all of those things here in Atlanta, obviously I don't have to live in Africa to have that simplicity. But I just don't. There are too many distractions in this American life for me. I don't have TV and that helps but im still soooo much busier and distracted than I want to be. Longing for my simple life under the African sun.......

Scott said...

A book I really enjoyed on this is Fowler's "Celebration of Discipline." In the chapter on simplicity he says it's an inward reality resulting in an outward lifestyle. Both are essential. The outward lifestyle of simplicity without an inward reality leads to legalism. The inward reality is a desperate seeking after the Kingdom of God and a thirst for Jesus, resulting in a joyful unconcern for possessions. There will always be struggles but that's a good thing: it's part of our sanctification as we are conformed to His image. Praise Him for the struggles! Some of Fowler's suggestions: buy things for usefulness rather than prestige, reject things that produce an addiction in you, and de-accumulate (develop a habit of giving things away). Above all seek first the Kingdom and avoid things that distract you from doing that.

Gabby said...

I really struggle with this topic lately. I feel called to downsize in a lot of areas for our family, and for me it is not so hard. However, when it comes to saying a lot of "no's" to my kids or even hubs, it gets a little stickier.
I find myself wondering how we got here, and at the same time patting myself on the back because it feels like we live minimally compared to others. But I am pretty sure Jesus doesn't compare me to others. I think he calls me to my very own special Living Simply, and the only way to find the boundaries of that calling is to seek Him every day, every decision, and in every "thing".

Meagan said...

First, I am so excited to read your post of this topic because my husband and I (we have no children yet) are currently discussing it. I think living simply is different for every person and every family. Perhaps not everyone is called to "live simply" but I think we can call make changes to live a little bit "more simple" if that makes sense. I think the important question is: What in my life is keeping me for doing God's will and serving His people? And if the answer to that is my lifestyle or "stuff" then I need to change it accordingly. For example-my husband and I have been discussing starting a family soon and we also want to support a child through a christian foundation called World Vision. After having a few discussions on giving to World Vision my husband said he wasn't sure we could do so, that it would make our budget really tight and we didn't have the extra money. My response, "Let's get rid of the dish TV we pay too much for and don't really watch". This is just one example of the "stuff" in our lives that we have allowed to take priority over God's will. It's a daily struggle for us and I think many of us because we live in a world that tells you "You NEED this iphone, dish TV, new fancy cars, bigger homes, etc" But does it bring glory to God?

Kimberly said...

Living simply for us started when He broke our hearts for ignoring the lost and poor. His Word acted like a floodlight on our lifestyle. We were utterly sickened when we realized that we had been so focused on furnishing our house with the latest and greatest or getting the next cool techno toy... that we had totally missed His heart for the lost and hurting. We sat down and evaluated EVERYTHING in our home and our budget. If it was in our life purely out of convenience or want, then we sold it or gave it away. It was hard, but it was SO liberating. And this is how we live now. Free from want.
I firmly believe that living simply is for every Christian. It just doesn't make sense to me why it's ok to justify our extravagant lifestyles while our brothers and sisters in Christ, through no fault of their own, are suffering in desperate poverty. That said, I do think it'll look different for each person depending on their calling and individual situations and most importantly, willingness. He gave us a free will to choose how we will live and I think the more idols/materialism that we choose to lay aside the more able we are to serve Him unfettered. Some people want to have their heaven here on earth by basking in the "blessings of stuff", but they miss out on the real blessings of the communities and relationships that are built when we share what we have with others in need.

LauraC said...

Brand new follower here, kinda nervous to add my two cents, but I've definitely thought about what it means to "live simply." Right out of college, way before marriage and a family, I watched several families at church live busy, frantic, tiring lives, rushing children this way and that, juggling schedules and STRESSED OUT. Now these were godly, God-honoring families, whom I had known for a long time, but at 23/24 years of age, I consciously decided to reject that life. I didn't have much at the time, materially, teaching at a Christian school, so that was less of my focus, but I saw the over-commitment to "good" things and didn't see how the stress it caused and the lack of family time stemming from so many commitments (to church activities no less) was in any way honoring to the Lord. So I guess when I think of living simply, I think of living slowly, deliberately, with only one or two carefully chosen commitments, outside of family. So when I did get married, my husband and I didn't jump into any ministry immediately. It was several years before we got involved in church again, not for lack of spiritual relationship with the Lord, but from a commitment to begin our marriage strong and healthy with a focus on our new relationship. Now our oldest daughter just turned 4, and we are going to let her begin ballet. So we are not opposed to "activities" but just think they should be carefully chosen and few and far between. Certainly not because "middle class educated Americans" do "X". Hope that makes sense.

the_blissful_mommy said...

It's about Him.
Not me. Not what I do. Not who I know. Not where I go. Not what I get.
It's about Him.
He is the Collandar of Life. When life is strained through Him, I am too focused and filled with Him to overfill with stuff.
Life gets simple because He nudges out stuff. He's too Big. :)

Kelsey said...

GD Watson talks about what "Others May, You Cannot," in a beautiful way, and I think it applies to this as well.

http://www.homemakerscorner.com/othermay.htm