“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”
If you have ever watched a show set in 1950s America, you’ve undoubtedly noticed the simplicity of their lifestyles—only one family car; a modest, ranch style home; a small black-and-white TV; single and double beds. You may be tempted to think the discipline of simplicity means living the lifestyle of June Cleaver. The question is: what does simplicity look like in modern, twenty-first century life?
jesus' call to a simple life
A simple life is modeled on Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 6:33: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” The phrase “All these things” refers to the many legitimate needs of humans—food, clothing, and basic material goods. Jesus’ disciples are not to worry about their basic human needs but to focus their primary attention on “his kingdom and his righteousness.” This describes a life of inner trust and peace, not one of anxiety.
Does your heart feel at peace? If you know that God owns all things, will supply all things, and is control of all things, you won’t try to find fulfillment in buying the newest iPhone or upgrading your car. You will be free to seek God’s kingdom first. Do you struggle with anxiety and fear over your security? It’s okay if you do. In fact, Jesus is sympathetic to our weaknesses and our proclivities toward fear (Hebrews 4:14–16). Ask God to show you where you’re struggling with fear and to begin filling you with trust that He is in control and that your security lies in Him.
A simple life begins with a heart that fully trusts God’s provision. But it also has external implications. Some common areas trip us up as women. Let’s look first at clothing and fashion. It’s so easy in this digital age to become overly concerned with approval, leading us to spend more money and more time than we have to wear brand-name, up-to-the-minute fashions. Or, think about your status as an employee, entrepreneur, woman, friend, wife, or mother. Isn’t there is a constant push toward competition, pitting woman against woman? It leads us to spend too much money on Christmas, plan extravagant weddings, lose sleep producing the best teacher-appreciation gifts, and try to out-Pinterest even the best pinners we know. And then there’s social media. We fill our limited spare time with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat, sometimes to the detriment of our own emotional and mental well-being.
Here are some suggestions. Maybe simplicity for you means cancelling your subscription to Vogue and taking a six-month hiatus from buying clothes. Maybe it means purging your house of excess things and vowing to buy less. Maybe it’s a social media fast or disciplining yourself to stay within a set amount of time online per week. Maybe it’s actively encouraging other women in ministry instead of spending your time competing with them at work or at home.
the gift of simplicity
Simplicity looks different for every person. It’s also a discipline to grow in, and it may be challenging at first. When you face real-life decisions, have a verse ready to remind yourself that God loves you and has given you all you need. And be encouraged: “Simplicity is a grace because it is given to us by God. There is no way that we can build up our willpower, put ourselves into this contortion or that, and attain it. It is a gift to be graciously received.”
A simple life is not only recognizable to the outside world; it is shocking. A woman who lives a life of simplicity will not only be following Jesus every day but enjoying Jesus every day. May we have the courage to trust the Lord, finding our full satisfaction not in material things or a busy life, but in God (Psalm 63:2–5). Go forth and simplify!