The spiritual discipline we are going to be exploring this month is Simplicity. I honestly can’t think of a better time to look at this than right now, as many of us are evaluating our lives and assessing what we want to go back to and what we want to forego. Simplicity is the first of the outward disciplines we will be looking at, although it really has both inward and outward implications.
Richard Foster writes in Celebration of Discipline, “The Christian Discipline of simplicity is an inward reality that results in an outward life-style.” So, let’s begin with the inward reality. What does that mean? Foster defines the inward reality as living out of “The Divine Center”, named such by Thomas Kelly (Quaker evangelist, 1893-1941). We are to seek God and His kingdom first and everything else in our lives is to flow from that center focus.
Foster shares three inner attitudes of simplicity that are necessary and, in his words, give us freedom from anxiety in our lives. The first is to receive all that we have as a gift from God. This is a deep recognition that our very existence is dependent on God; He supplies us with the air we breathe, the water we drink, the sunlight and darkness – all these things come from Him. Everything we have is a gracious gift from Him (see James 1:17).
The second inner attitude is to know that God is able to protect all that we have and that He is trustworthy. We go to great lengths to try to protect ourselves but ultimately, we can trust that we are in God’s hands and that if we are living with a focus on Him and His kingdom, He will work all things for good in our lives (see Romans 8:28). Does that mean that bad things will never happen? No, it doesn’t, but it does mean that we have a loving Father who is there to lead and guide us, always.
The third inner attitude of simplicity is to be generous to others out of what we have. We cling to things rather than being generous out of fear, but if I recognize that all I have comes from God and that He is trustworthy, I won’t fear the impact of generosity. We have seen fear on full display during these days of the pandemic as people have hoarded food and toilet paper (I’m still scratching my head over that one…). We fear not having enough for ourselves and our families but if we are truly seeking God’s kingdom first, we are freed to live a life of generosity.
There’s so much in this chapter – I hope you are reading along and that it is impacting you as deeply as it is me. So much of our lives is stripped down right now – it gives us a great opportunity to really look at what kind of life we want to have. I’m praying that we emerge from this with bigger hearts that are more dependent on our heavenly Father than ever before.
Don’t forget to join us for our Prayer Night tonight at 7 pm on Facebook Live or live.newhope.org! Our focus is Intercession, praying for the needs of others.
Executive Director of Education and Outreach