Simple Living

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Recently I read an article in a well-known archery magazine entitled, “The Art of Selling.” The writer had interviewed two local people from our area in preparation for his article. One of the people he interviewed was a local salesman from an archery shop. There was something in this section that caught my attention. “Part of his customer base is Mennonites from the surrounding farming community. Due to their religious beliefs, they do not own or drive automobiles. The Mennonites are avid hunters and archers who desire the latest equipment and upgrade often.” I do not wish to, in any way, cast a negative light on the particular group of Mennonites and what they stand for when it comes to simple living.
What stood out to me in this article was the inconsistency of simple living. But as I reflected on my life and yes, the church that I am a part of, I realized that it is a universal problem to be inconsistent in this area. We may stand firm in one area, but regulate it very little, if at all, in another area. Simplicity is a doctrine that is taught in the Bible; therefore, as God’s people, we must stand firm. But what principles should guide us when we buy a house, a vehicle, clothing, electronics, etc.?
As Christians, we are strangers and pilgrims on this earth. The heroes of faith in Hebrews 11 confessed that they were “strangers and pilgrims.” They made it clear by their lives that this world was not their home. Verse 14 says, “For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.” How do you suppose that they “declared plainly?” I believe it was in the choices they made. They made decisions that were in light of eternity, not the here and the now.
As Christians, we are to be content with what we have. “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have” (Heb. 13:5).The word conversation in this verse means our manner of life. It is the way we live our lives from day to day. Or, we could say, we are known for this. Are we known as people that are content with what we have? Or are we known as people that always desire the latest equipment, upgrading often?
Simple living is a mark of separation. When we choose to follow Christ, there must be a separation from the world. When we follow Christ, our lives should automatically start looking different from the world. Many forms of separation should be found in a Christian’s life. We often talk about separation in dress and the way we speak. But did you ever take note of how your house compares to others in your neighborhood? Is it a mark of separation of God’s people? How about your vehicle? Are we inconsistent in some areas of simple living?
What separates the Christian from the non-Christian is who or what controls us. The non-Christian will make decisions based on his flesh and his pocket book or credit line. The Christian makes decisions based on the leading of the Holy Spirit living within him. Galatians 5 clearly lays out the two different driving factors. Does my life reflect a life that is driven by the flesh or by God’s Spirit living within me?
As Christians, we are stewards of what God gives us. God created the world and all that is in it for His honor and glory. Do we live like we believe this? Do you pray before making a purchase to ask God what decision He wants you to make? How much money should we spend on our hobbies or upgrading to the latest cell phone or tablet? How many pairs of shoes and sweaters would God want us to have in our closet?
I believe that realizing and remembering that we are only stewards of what God gives us will lead to simple living.
We cannot love God and the world. First John 2:15b says, “If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” We cannot divide our hearts and give some to the world and some to God. Either it is in one place or the other. The love of our hearts is manifested in how we live our lives. If we love the world, we will fill our lives up with worldly things. If we love archery hunting, we will probably have the latest bow. If we love the flesh, we will tend to adorn ourselves with the latest fads and fashions. We will buy that beautiful sweater just because we look good in it even if we don’t need another sweater. If we love God, all those things are not a big deal to us anymore. The latest model will not be the drive for our next purchase; instead, it will be a need.
We can observe where our hearts are by what drives us. We need to ask ourselves these questions, “What is driving me? Where is my heart?”
Simple living takes humility. Our lives and our way of life should bring honor and glory to God. Simple living will do this. When we are not living simply, we draw attention to ourselves. We have a natural tendency to want to look good to others. This is pride.
Our lives should reflect Jesus Christ. They should bring Him honor and glory. Can the world see Jesus when they look at my life? Do they see a humble life that reflects Jesus as Lord of my life? May our simple way of living bring honor and glory to Him, the One that deserves it all.