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Socrates wrote, “The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.” Paul was basically saying the same thing in the Bible when he wrote, “I have learned the secret of being content, in any and every circumstance.” (Phil 4:12) Simplicity is really about letting go of consumerism and embracing contentment. When I stop grasping for more (consumerism), I can be grateful for what I have (contentment) and invest my resources in God’s priorities.
As I reexamine how I spend my money, how I spend my time, and what I put into my body, I am also considering how those choices affect other people, the environment, and my personal well-being. I’ve been learning how my own habit of consumption (1) contributes to the cycle of poverty, hunger and disease, (2) harms the planet, (3) disregards the torture of animals for food, (4) breeds discontentment and anxiety and, most importantly, (5) distracts me from SEEKING God first. These are not easy things to be confronted with. Ignorance is bliss, I’ll tell you. But I won’t ignore this cold, harsh reality anymore.
Recently, my family went down to Mexico for a week to serve at an orphanage that our church supports. We had the opportunity to play with and care for the children as well as work alongside the staff doing chores around the mission. This is the question I came away with: How, then, shall we live? I’ve seen the faces of poverty and tragedy. I no longer want to hold “The Poor” at arm’s length. I want to move beyond a sense of gratitude for where I was born and everything that I have been given and assume a sense of responsibility for how God would have me invest my time, money, and energy. In God’s economy, everything that I have is a resource to be distributed as He sees fit.
And God is generous. Here are some great resources that are inspiring me to live more simply so that I can be more generous too:
Simpler Living, Compassionate Life by Michael Shut and Bill McKibben
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