The Complexity of Simplicity

Updated: Jan 11, 2020

Living simply is simply not simple.

Living simply is simply not simple.

That’s the conclusion I have come to as I have sought to apprehend simplicity. I have been so grateful that we as a church are studying together the book, “Celebration of Discipline” by Richard Foster. And this past week I have been applying last week’s sermon every day, asking God to help me, little by little, to get rid of what I don’t need.


There’s where simplicity becomes complex. We make simplicity complicated because of our wants. We convince ourselves that our wants are needs and in our own deception, we are convinced that we need even more. That is the nature of the flesh—never fully satisfied.

If we are just setting out to be a minimalist, this can have a good effect on us, but there is missing the inward motivation of sacrifice. A minimalist can still be a minimalist but still have his or her “wants” unchecked. Oh, to be satisfied with Jesus and not just things. Or statuses. Or positions. Or comfort.

In the world

Another stumbling block that makes it difficult to live a life of simplicity is the fact that we are in the world and influenced by its messages of materialism. But Jesus encourages us to be in the world and not of it. This is so very hard for us unless we are constantly looking to the compass of God’s word. What does the Bible say is needful? Time with Jesus. Time in prayer. Time in God’s word. Time with others. Clothing. And our daily bread.

Peer pressure

Wanting acceptance or approval from others can also affect our ability to live simply. My precious husband has been such an example in this area. While others would mock our vehicles that were approaching 300,000 miles and showing plenty of wear, he was just grateful for faithful transportation. While some of us in said vehicle would slide down to avoid being seen, he would honk and greet passersby—those who told him that I “deserved” a better car.

While we don’t drive “the green beast” anymore, our trusted Chevy Astro van of 12 years or so, it was not before that thing had been used up that we moved on to another used vehicle. The shame for driving a busted up vehicle is not remembered. And the contentedness for what we have now is enduring.


There is a degree of pain that can deter us from living simply. We have to let go. It might mean sacrifice, which feels so very hard at times, but the feeling that comes after is our reward. A weight lifted. An inner joy bubbling up because we could let go. Things have less of a hold on us.

Disappointment and life's struggles can also inflict pain in our lives that make us want to hold onto what seems certain in this life. But things cannot comfort us like the One who is truly certain and needed—Jesus.

Ah. I have so very far to go, friends. How about you? There are so many other things that make simplicity complex. What makes it difficult for you to live a life of simplicity? When we lack strength to choose simplicity, our God is well able to help us.

It does not matter how many times in our walk with God that we think we have covered an area. Oh my, we have blind spots. Big ones. And God is so very patient with us to bring these topics up again and again to help to set us free. Free to live the abundant life of Christ.

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