I can't find simplicity these days. It's lost—buried somewhere beneath all my stuff. Well, I suggest that it’s time for me to dig up this misplaced virtue. Of course, it's been so long since I've seen it, I might not know what to look for. So, as I rummage through the piles of my possessions, here are some of the things I might want to keep my eyes open for.
• Simplicity is not buying a bigger house just because my best mate just bought one.
• Simplicity is not getting the newest gadget just because it is the newest gadget.
• Simplicity is not taking the job with twice the salary if it means that I'll have to spend half the time with my family.
• Simplicity is increasing the amount I give away, rather than skyrocketing my standard of living, when the Lord blesses me financially.
• Simplicity is recognizing the difference between necessity and luxury, and choosing to do without the luxuries, because so many in our world lack the necessities.
To state the matter plainly, simplicity means living an uncluttered life. Simplicity is the path less traveled because there is less on the path, and, if you are like me, you are prone to prize possessions. But where greed and covetousness say, “I must possess more,” simplicity says, “I am content with what God has given.” The simple understand that:
“He who has God has everything. He who does not have God has nothing. He who has God and everything has no more than he who has God alone.”
– St. Augustine
I'm a selfish man, but I've been digging a little lately, and I might have spotted simplicity.
It's all because of an exercise my family did recently: we crammed everything we thought we would need for the next three years into seven suitcases! I had just been accepted as a Ph.D. student at the University of Otago, which meant that I, along with my wife, Jamie, and our two wee ones, Aidan and Cullen, would be moving from the U.S. to New Zealand. As we prepared for our globe-trot, we said goodbye to a lot of our stuff. We sold our cars, our furniture, half our clothing, and barrels of toys (not just monkeys either). As it turns out, you don’t even need most of this stuff. Who knew?
I haven't found simplicity yet, but I'm committed to the search. The Apostle Paul’s words to Timothy guide me; perhaps they will do the same for you. “Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content” (I Timothy chapter 6 verses 6-8, English Standard Version).
As the Southern fellow sang: "Be a simple kind of man." Life is short, and we can't take our suitcases with us—not even seven.
Dillon T. Thornton is a graduate of Beeson Divinity School (M.Div.) and a student at the University of Otago (Ph.D. candidate). He is an ordained pastor/teacher within the Southern Baptist tradition, with over ten years of diverse ministry experience. He has published a number of articles in pastoral periodicals, including Preaching magazine. Dillon is currently serving and studying in Dunedin, New Zealand.