The Practice of Simplicity

Ann Spangler
Ann Spangler

In recent years, some have been drawn to the practice of simplicity--a positive discipline that counters the tendency to equate the good life with amassing as much money and things as possible. The purpose of introducing greater simplicity to our lives is not merely to avoid the snares of prosperity but to use our prosperity to accomplish Christ's work in the world.

Simplicity is a positive discipline that helps us resist the cultural tide and reshape the direction of our lives so that we can become a blessing to others. When you put money in the offering plate or send a check to a charitable organization, you may be saying no to an expensive vacation so that you can say yes to educating children and feeding the hungry. Instead of simply succumbing to the values of a materialistic society, allowing these to determine the course of your life, simplicity can enable you to maintain a degree of freedom so that you can more nimbly respond to God's invitations, whatever or wherever these may be.

Paul warned Timothy about the dangers of pursuing wealth, saying that "godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that" (1 Timothy 6:6-8). To twenty-first-century ears, Paul's advice sounds radical. Living in a materialistic culture can make it difficult to see how such values have crept into our own lives. To counter our cultural blindness, it's instructive to look at the values and practices of people who have led intentionally simple lives.


Originally published November 24, 2020.