A few years ago, Marie Kondo had a hit TV show called Tidying Up. In each show, she would visit a family and help them tidy their home. Often the biggest job was helping them get rid of things they really didn’t need. Keeping everything tidy and organized was a virtue. Recently, she made the news again. Since having her third child, she admits that it’s a lot of work to keep everything tidy. She says, “I realise what is important to me is enjoying spending time with my children at home.”
Marie Kondo and some other YouTube stars have been at the forefront of the recent ‘minimalism’ movement. In a world that is so consumer-driven, many people are finally seeing the dangers of having too much stuff. The more stuff you have, the more work it is to look after everything. It can be expensive and sometimes bad for the planet. Long before the current wave of minimalism, there were Christian believers urging us to live simply. That is, to live with what we need and to hold our possession lightly. Simplicity is actually a spiritual practice, along with prayer and Bible reading.
Jesus spoke to this issue in Matthew 6:28-30, “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?”
Richard Foster in his chapter on The Discipline of Simplicity lists ten outward expressions of simplicity. I think they are helpful to consider:
- Buy things for their usefulness rather than their status
- Reject anything that is producing an addiction in you
- Develop a habit of giving things away
- Refuse to be propagandized by the custodians of modern gadgetry
- Learn to enjoy things without owning them
- Develop a deeper appreciation for creation
- Look with a healthy skepticism at all “buy now, pay later” schemes
- Obey Jesus’ instructions about plain, honest speech
- Reject anything that will breed the oppression of others
- Shun whatever would distract you from your main goal
Each of those points deserves more thought and explanation but it’s a good list. Keeping our life simple, free from the pressure of caring for material goods means we can spend more time and energy on the people around us and pay attention to what the Lord is doing in our lives.