Simplicity (Spiritual Disciplines Study)

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Outward Disciplines

Simplicity

  • What do we mean by outward disciplines?  These are disciplines that are designed to be done in a public way, unlike the inward disciplines we’ve already discussed.  Again, it’s not about doing things in a “look at me and my righteousness” kind of way, but these are done in a public setting for the most part.  Others can see you serve, although there is something to be said about serving in secret where no one knows who has done what has been done.  You spending time is solitude is something that others could pick up on.  It can become evident in your life.  Living a life of simplicity is definitely something that can be seen.  And submitting to others in a biblical way is something that is seen when one knows what to look for.  So let’s jump right in to our study.
  • Simplicity is freedom, duplicity is bondage. Simplicity brings joy and balance. Duplicity brings anxiety and fear.
  • The Christian Discipline of simplicity is an inward reality that results in an outward life-style. Bot the inward and the outward aspects of simplicity are essential. We deceive ourselves if we believe we can possess the inward reality without its having a profound effect on how we live.
  • To attempt to arrange a outward life style of simplicity without the inward reality leads to deadly legalism
  • Experiencing the inward reality liberates us outwardly. Speech becomes truthful and honest. The lust for status and position is gone because we no longer need status and position. We cease from showy extravagance not non the grounds of being unable to afford it, but on the grounds of principle. Our goods become available to others.
  • We really must understand that the lust for affluence in contemporary society is psychotic. It is psychotic because it has completely lost touch with reality. We crave things we neither need nor enjoy. We buy things we do not want to impress people we do not like.
    • Atlanta Braves Ring 
  • It is time we awaken to the fact that conformity to a sick society is to be sick.
    • The psychosis permeates eve our mythology. The modern hero is the poor boy who purposefully becomes rich rather than the rich boy who voluntarily becomes poor. (We still find it hard to imagine that a girl could do either!) Covetousness we call ambition. Hoarding we call prudences. Greed we call industry.
    • Courageously, we need to articulate new, more human ways to live. We should take exception to the modern psychosis that defines people by how much they can produce or what they earn. We should experiment with bold new alternatives to the present death-giving system. The Spiritual Discipline of simplicity is not a lost dream, but a recurrent vision throughout history. It can be recaptured today. It must be.
  • Simplicity in the Bible
    • We live in a society today that is anything but simplistic.  After studying this discipline, I want to point out something from the start.  This is such a complex subject in a lot of ways that we could spend multiple weeks on it.  So I’m going to try to hit the highlights of this discipline.  This is not a very popular subject in our culture either.  Another thing I don’t want you to misunderstand here, is that I am not trying to say, in any way, that we all need to get rid of everything we own and live in complete poverty.  That is not what this discipline is all about.  But Jesus does speak about economics more than any other social issue.  So, what are we talking about then?
      • Matthew 6:19-21; 24-34
        • 19 “Don’t store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don’t break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also…24 “No one can serve two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. 25 “Therefore I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Consider the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they? 27 Can any of you add one moment to his life span by worrying? 28 And why do you worry about clothes Observe how the wildflowers of the field grow: They don’t labor or spin thread. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these. 30 If that’s how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, won’t he do much more for you—you of little faith? 31 So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. 34 Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
      • Simplicity is all about seeking His Kingdom and His righteousness first and foremost in our lives.
    • This life is not all about gaining wealth.  It’s about seeking His kingdom.  We don’t actually own anything, everything is already God’s.  He just allows us to use it.  Again, this is not an attempt saying that we need to sale everything and live in poverty.  But we can’t put our hopes in what we have.  Our hope is in Jesus.  When we get that backwards is when we mess up.  Philippians 4:13 speaks to this issue as well.  It’s a familiar verse that is used in a lot of ways to say that we can do all things in Christ.  I believe that that is true, but I fear that we use this verse out of context a lot.  So let’s back up a few verses.
      • Philippians 4:10-13
        • 10 I rejoiced in the Lord greatly because once again you renewed your care for me. You were, in fact, concerned about me but lacked the opportunity to show it. 11 I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I find myself. 12 I know how to make do with little, and I know how to make do with a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. 13 I am able to do all things through him who strengthens me
    • Simplicity, in a lot of ways, is learning to be content.  It’s about seeking God over everything that gets in our way to God.
    • Simplicity sets us free to receive the provision of God as a gift that is not ours to keep and can be freely shared with others. Once we recognize that the Bible denounces the materialist and the ascetic with equal vigor, we are prepared to turn our attention to the framing of a Christian understanding of simplicity.
  • The central point for the discipline of simplicity is to seek the kingdom of God and the righteousness of His kingdom first and then everything necessary will come in its proper order.
    • Nothing must come before the kingdom of God, including the desire for a simple life-style
    • Focus upon the kingdom produces the inward reality, and without the inward reality we will degenerate into legalistic trivia. Nothing else can be central. The desire to get out of the rat race cannot be central. The redistribution of the world’s wealth cannot be central, the concern for the ecology cannot be central. Seeking first God’s Kingdom and the righteousness, both personal and social, of that kingdom is the only thing that can be central in the spiritual discipline of simplicity.
    • When the kingdom of Gd is genuinely placed first, ecological concerns, the poor, the equitable distribution of wealth, and many other things will be given their proper attention.
  • Freedom from anxiety is characterized by three inner attitudes.
    • If what we have we receive as a gift, and if what we have is to be cared for by God, and if what we have is available to others, then we will possess freedom from anxiety.  This is the inward reality of simplicity
      • When we are tempted to think that what we own is the result of our personal efforts, it take only a little drought or a small accident to show us once again how utterly dependent we are for every thing.
    • To know that it is God’s business, and not ours, to care for what we have is the second inner attitude of simplicity.
      • Yes, we can lock our doors and take precautions
      • There is simply no such thing as “burglar proof” precaution. Obviously, these matters are not restricted to possessions but include such things as our reputation and our employment.  Simplicity means the freedom to trust God for these (and all) things.
    • To have our goods available to others marks the third inner attitude of simplicity.
  • Simplicity is freedom, not slavery.  Refuse to be a slave to anything but God.
    • For the name simplicity, there is a lot that goes into this.  But I hope that gives you a little taste of what we are talking about.  I highly recommend you do some deeper study on this subject, because it is not one that you will hear much about unless you seek it out, even though it is a subject that scripture speaks of often.

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