Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Speaking of Simplicity...

"...don't be anxious about your life, about what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body...But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." Matthew 6: 25-33

Understanding all that that implies and to do so is to live in simplicity.

Richard Foster in his book Celebration of Discipline states that freedom from anxiety is one of the inward evidences of seeking first the kingdom of God. This freedom from anxiety is characterized by 3 inner attitudes:

1. If what we have we receive as a gift from God (i.e. live by grace in dependence on God),
2. If what we have is to be cared for by God (i.e. we trust that He is able to protect what we have) and
3. If what we have is available to others (i.e. we share all that we have with anyone in need).

The reason that we find it so difficult to make what we have available to others is because of our fear of the future. We cling to things rather than share because we are anxious about tomorrow. Taken together, these 3 attitudes define what Jesus meant when he said, "Do not be anxious..."

Foster further states that this inner reality is not a true reality until there is an outward expression. He believes that there are 10 controlling principles for this outward expression:

1. Buy things for their usefulness rather than their status

2. Reject anything that is producing an addiction in you...refuse to be a slave to anything but God.

3. Develop a habit of giving things away. If you find that you are becoming attached to something, consider giving it away to someone who needs it. De-accumulate.

4. Refuse to propagandized by custodians of modern gadgetry since "new" features are often only a way of inducing us to buy what we do not need.

5. Learn to enjoy things without owning them. Owning things is an obsession of our culture. If we own it, we feel we can control it; if we can control it, we feel it will give us more pleasure. The idea is an illusion. Share things.

6. Develop a deeper appreciation for creation. Get close to earth. Walk. Listen to birds. Enjoy the texture of grass and leaves. Marvel at the rich colors everywhere...Psalm.24:1

7. Look with healthy skepticism at all "buy now, pay later" schemes. They are a trap and serve to deepen you bondage. Both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible condemn 'usury' for good reason. ("Usury" =charging interest which was viewed as an unbrotherly exploitation of another's misfortune, hence a denial of Christian community.)

8. Obey Jesus' instructions about plain, honest speech. Matthew 5:37 If you consent to a task, do it. Avoid flattery and half truths... honesty and integrity... reject jargon and abstract speculation whose purpose is to obscure and impress rather than to illuminate and inform.

9. Reject anything that will breed the oppression of others. May God give us prophets today who, like John Woolman, will call us "from the desire of wealth' so that we may be able to "break the yoke of oppression."

10. Shun whatever would distract you from you main goal of seeking His Kingdom and Righteousness.

Psalm 62:10-12 "If riches increase, do not set you heart upon them...Power belongs to God...For He recompenses a man according to his work."

Proverbs 11:28 "He who trusts in his riches will wither."

Hebrews 13:5 "Keep your life free from the love of money, and be content with what you have; for He has said, 'I will never fail you nor forsake you.' "

God give us courage, wisdom and strength always to hold as the number one priority of our lives to "seek first his Kingdom and his righteousness," understanding all that that implies. To do so is to live in simplicity.

1 comment:

  1. Living within our means is not really something our culture is drawn to, but we have found there is an incredible freedom in not having any debt (not even a mortgage). We might not be living like kings and queens but we're OK with that...well, most of the time!