Simplicity as a spiritual discipline is living in dependence on God. Our modern cultures lead us to believe that happiness can be found in things, in possessions, in money or position — in having it all. Scripture, however, tells us that happiness does not come through possessions, but through relationship with God.
Children live simply by nature. Young children trust their parents to provide for them. They don’t feel the need to hoard food, possessions, clothes or money because they trust that when they need something, it will be provided for them. However, when children are given too much and begin to blurr the distinction between need and want, we see the vice of avarice, or greed, enter in.
The same is true with adults. Trusting God for our needs can be difficult because we live in a society that defines needs very differently than scripture. It can affect our ability to give generously and pursue justice because we think we need to hang on to our possessions. In the book Glittering Vices, Rebecca Konyndyk DeYoung points out, “Augustine explains the insatiability of desire for temporal goods like this: we will never be able to satisfy our deep, human need for an eternal, perfect good with any amount of temporal, imperfect goods.”
Read Deuteronomy 8.
Divide a sheet of paper into two columns. In the first column, list the ways in which God provided for the Israelites. Include in this list the promises given in relationship to the new land they are about to enter.
In the second column, list the difficulties which the Israelites encountered from which God saved them.
Read verses 11 through 20. Summarize the warning to the Israelites. How does this warning speak to the choice between a life of simplicity and a life of avarice? What might that look like today? Do you see it in your own life?
Prayerfully consider the things in your life that make it hard to be dependent on God. Identify some changes you can make to live life more simply and depend upon God to provide for your needs. (Some examples: don’t buy any new clothes for a year; give 10% of your income to a church or charity for a year; limit your spending to a set amount each month and give the extra to a good cause in your community).
Write your decisions in your journal and take steps to simplify your life. If possible, share your decisions with someone to whom you can be accountable for your choices.
Pray for a heart that recognizes need and depends on God for fulfilling those needs. Pray for the strength and discipline to live life simply in thankfulness and obedience to God.