My wife Chelsea Kellum joins us to talk about “Simplicity”. Chelsea has served previously as both a youth minister and alongside me for 10 years in baptist churches across AL, LA, and MS. She is now a full-time mom raising our two boys and our most recent addition, a little girl.
Today’s topic is simplicity. The spiritual discipline of simplicity is an inward reality that Christ is of upmost importance, which results in an outward lifestyle change that reflects this truth. It’s more than just knowing. It’s actually doing.
The Bible has a lot to say about simplicity. You can look all through the life of Jesus and what was important to him. One passage of Scripture that I would call attention to is the greatest commandment in Mark 12:28-31 where the scribes approached Jesus to ask him a question: what is the most important commandment? And we know that Jesus responds to them that the most important commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength. And he adds a caveat, that there is a second greatest commandment and that is to love others. We know that Jesus, here, is not telling the scribes anything new. He is merely repeating the command that God had given the Israelites in Deuteronomy, chapter 6.
So how does simplicity benefit your personal walk? The goal of simplicity is to be more like God and to look more like Jesus. You may test how well you’re achieving simplicity in your life by your level of joy and satisfaction. Many of us have such an overcrowded schedule and such an abundance of things that we do not have enough time to get everything done. We’re simply multitasking ourselves joyless. This means that we are not living simply. We are not showing the outward reality that Christ is of upmost importance.
In looking at how to apply simplicity to your life, the basics of this is that you work towards building a life such that if everything were stripped away, lost stolen, destroyed – however that might be – you would still have everything you need because you have Christ. Following the logic that life does not consist in an abundance of things, Matthew 6:33 teaches us, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things” – whatever those things may be like in your life, if that’s your ministry, your family, or money to pay the bills and provide for basic needs. God knows all that you need and after we seek Him first, then all of those things will be added unto you.
In addition, it may be helpful to flesh out, are you truly living the greatest commandment in your life? Are you loving God with all of your heart, your soul, your mind and your strength? When we look at what it means to love God with all of our heart, ask yourself: Do you love God above all else, above money, acceptance, success, doing things your own way? Are you loving God for who He is or for what He can do for you? Can you say with the psalmist in Psalm 73:25, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.”
Thinking about are we loving God with all of our soul, I would ask, are you at peace in your circumstances or do you find yourself anxious, angry, bitter, stressed, depressed? Our goal is to strive in whatever circumstances to be able to say, “It is well with my soul” – in the difficult, in the struggles, in whatever God sends your way to trust and rely completely on Him.
Three questions tend to cause a lot of unrest. First, “Am I enough?” That question is fueled by a lack of self-esteem. The second question that can cause unrest is, “Do I have enough?” This is often fueled by fear of the future. The third question, and one that I personally struggle with, is “Have I done enough?” It’s fueled by the need to find self-worth in accomplishments. This may often be a struggle for those in ministry who are trying to see the benefits of the work they are putting in.
The simple truth that we need to remember in practicing simplicity is that Jesus is enough. In loving God with all of your mind, what things do you dwell on? Have you set your mind on Christ thinking pure, true thoughts and dreaming big righteous dreams? Or is your mind crowded with lies or defeat? Philippians 4:8 reminds us, “Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, then think on these things.”
And finally, in loving God with all of your strength, are you serving God with all you have? Or are you so worn down and tired that you’re just being lazy and apathetic? Galatians 5:13-15 says, “For you are called to freedom brothers, only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” Strength here can refer to more than just physical service, too, I would add. It also takes strength to forgive someone, to admit when we’re wrong, or to stand up for what’s right. It takes an effort to encourage one another and to be willing to hold one another accountable.
I hope this has been helpful as you practice the spiritual discipline of simplicity in your life.