Simplicity / Frugality

Overview of the Practice of Simplicity / Frugality

Most of us, no matter the size of our bank account, or the size of the structure in which we live, would probably have to admit that we are surrounded by “stuff.” This isn’t just an internal situation, either – our hearts are filled with love of “stuff” and our minds often focus on a desire for more “stuff.” The spiritual practices of simplicity and frugality are deliberate actions we can take to move away from this obsession with “stuff” and focus on following God.

Practicing the discipline of simplicity or frugality seems contrary to our modern American tendencies. Maybe that’s the point. Rather than spending time thinking about when we’ll get a new car or what other DVDs we need to fill up every inch on the shelf, maybe we can think about how God provides all of it, and the point of life really isn’t to accumulate more and more “stuff.” Simplicity is freedom from demands of our outward life-style.

What Scripture says

Incorporate this practice into your life

You might start thinking of simplicity by looking out your window to a bird’s nest. Ponder how simple their lives are – simple shelters and bland food – yet how vibrant and full of life they are. What can you learn from that observation?

As you start to practice simplicity, you might start thinking about your possessions. Are there things that are burdensome and you’d just as well get rid of? Are there other things you treasure? Are there things that get in the way of you connecting authentically with God? Are there things you’re over-attached to? Think of one realistic step you could take towards a simpler life in terms of your possessions. Maybe it’s giving unwanted possessions to a thrift store, or taking steps to organize (and at least not see disorganized “stuff” everywhere), or maybe it’s deliberately committing to think before you buy. Whatever you do, start by seeking to hold everything with an open hand before God.

Simplicity also involves our regular activities. Think about the things you do on a daily or monthly basis. Are you involved in way too many organizations that don’t seem to offer you or others much benefit? Do you find yourself being too busy to connect with family, friends, or God? Think of one realistic step you could take toward a simpler life in terms of your activities. Maybe it’s stepping back from an activity for a time. Maybe it’s more drastic like considering a new career. Whatever it is, talk to God about your desire to practice simplicity in your activities and ask for His wisdom in knowing what to say “yes” to and what to say “no” to.

How does this practice relate to what I’m facing?

  • Simplicity about Money & Debt:
    • When you’re bearing a large debt burden or when you’re seeking to rearrange your finances so you can more faithfully leverage all that God’s given you, simplicity is a good practice to take on. Combat debt and make resources available for giving by seeking to live more simply. Do you really need that DVD-rental service, TV-recording service, and house-cleaning service? Or, could you get by with a more simplistic lifestyle?
  • Simplicity with your family:
    • Parents sometimes start wondering if they’re raising their kids to value material things too much and important things like relationships too little. Practice simplicity with your kids by having them weed through their toy boxes and pick out a favorite toy or game that they’ve outgrown. Help your child give it away. Put it in a toy drive for an oversees mission agency and show your child how children in that country get by without as much as we have. Or, share the toy with a younger neighbor, and talk about how excited you are that their old toy can have a new friend.

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