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He was willing to give the shirt off of his back
He was not to attached to the shirt
In this moment at least, he was willing to give up whatever he had to help someone else...
This is the essence of simplicity
“Simplicity is freedom. Simplicity brings joy and balance. Duplicity brings anxiety and fear.” - Richard Foster
Being simple is where we find freedom. Not being attached to to many thing frees us!
“The Christian Discipline of simplicity is an inward reality that results in an outward life-style.” - Richard Foster
Simplicity begins on the inside…the willingness to let go of things, then results in an outward change..
You see, when we get too attached to things, we become fickle people
The fickle-ness that we are
“One moment we make decisions on the basis of sound reason and the next moment out of fear of what others will think of us.” - Richard Foster
To eliminate being fickle, we must reprioritize our lives...
Jesus says, in regards to basic needs, including food/water/shelter,
Matthew 6:33 NIV
33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
This is the goal of all things!
But especially in regards to things....
Our focus should be first to seek His kingdom!
Once we set our focus on His kingdom, simplicity falls into place
As we have done with the other disciplines, let’s look at several scriptures to give us an overview of simplicity and the importance of letting go of things
Proverbs 11:28 NIV
28 Those who trust in their riches will fall, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf.
Exodus 20:17 NIV
17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
Luke 16:13 NIV
13 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
Matthew 6:19–21 NIV
19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Matthew 19:23–24 NIV
23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
Luke 12:15 NIV
15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”
Matthew 13:45–46 NIV
45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46 When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.
1 Timothy 6:6–8 NIV
6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.
1 Timothy 6:9–10 NIV
9 Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
Hebrews 13:5 NIV
5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
After reading all of this scripture we want to be clear that these are warnings against having much.
There is no instruction in scripture forbidding having possessions…as long as they are kept in check
As with most things, there is a balance and an unhealthy way of thinking...
The refusal to have nothing and deny one’s self of everything, errors on the side of asceticism
Asceticism says that we should have nothing and no pleasures - I don’t this to be biblical either
Foster lays out some differences in asceticism and simplicity
“Asceticism renounces possessions. Simplicity sets possessions in proper perspective.”
“Asceticism finds no place for a “land flowing with milk and honey.” Simplicity rejoices in this gracious provision from the hand of God.”
“Asceticism finds contentment only when it is abased. Simplicity knows contentment in both abasement and abounding.”
And this statement seems to be the crux of it all.
I believe Paul echoes this well in...
Philippians 4:10–11 NIV
10 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.
Philippians 4:12–13 NIV
12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Here we see Paul admitting to having much and having little…what matter is the amount, but that Christ is the center...
Be content, as God is our provider...
The problem with much is when we become too attached to the things.
This is the problem with the rich young ruler...
It wasn’t that he had much, it was that he was unwilling to give it all away to follow Christ...
What simplicity acknowledges is that all that we have is from God and should be used to glorify Him, not us
Meaning, the things we have are God’s, intrusted to us for a time
So, if called away by God, we should be willing to part with them
“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.” - Richard Foster
The freedom in simplicity comes when we remember that the things that we have are Gods.
The problem comes when we think the things that we have are ours…when we think this way, we must protect at all costs…this leads to anxiety
What happens when I can’t protect the stuff?
But, when we realize it is God’s our provider, then we don’t have anxiety when they are gone...
Also, this doesn’t mean that we don’t care for what we have…we are also called to be stewards of what we have
In fact, we will likely take better care of the things we have if we realize they are God’s and not ours
It just frees us from the anxiety of thinking they are completely ours
“Simplicity means to trust God for these (and all) things.”
I will end this morning with 10 suggestions that Foster gives. Now, some of these, maybe many, will hit home.
The thoughts behind them are trying to live simple lives with the biblical view in mind.
These things are to help us remember our things are from God and we are not to be attached to them.
Remember a couple things before you get offended.
This is Foster’s list, not mine - so be mad at him
These things should challenge our thinking. So, it’s okay to disagree, but it’s worth considering them
So, here we go! Got your tomatoes ready?
Buy things for their usefulness rather than their status.
Reject anything that is producing an addiction in you.
Develop a habit of giving things away.
Refuse to be propagandized by the custodians of modern gadgetry.
Learn to enjoy things without owning them.
Develop a deeper appreciation for the creation.
Look with a healthy skepticism at all “buy, pay later” schemes.
Obey Jesus’ instructions about plain, honest speech.
Reject anything that breeds the oppression of others.
. Shun anything that distracts you from seeking first the kingdom of God.
I hope that this list challenges you to think about some things this morning.
As we respond this morning, put yourself in a place to hear from the Lord.
Does He want to speak to you about simplifying your life?
Maybe He wants to shift your perspective on the things that you have.
Are you in control of the things that your have, or are they in control of you?
Have you thought about how the things that you have are on loan from God?
How can you use what you have to glorify God?
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