The Simple Life

The New Testament calls us to a simple life free from the high speed at which modern life moves and from the complicated way in which many people live (Matthew 6:24-26; 31-34; 1 Thessalonians. 4:9-12).

Our forefathers came from communities where worldliness and luxury were the common practice of society. It would require multiplied millions to produce the luxuries of some of the palaces built by upper class citizens of a few centuries ago. The situation is similar in the United States of America today. Our society lands on the moon; automates kitchens; erects stadiums; rearranges teeth; air-conditions almost everything in sight; decorates; entertains; luxuriates; etc. Most of us tend to want far more than we need. Yet we know that all are happier and live better if we live more quietly and leisurely, and if there are not too many things to clutter up life.

The simple Christian life involves a life of wisdom, discretion, and good sense. Overeating has become a common sin with many consuming a third more food than is needed; the drinking of alcoholic intoxicants easily becomes a habit that enslaves people; dancing exposes people to temptations that may lead to moral disaster; card-playing is universally associated with gambling and dissipation; theater-attendance and television-viewing are activities that hinder spiritual growth; the vagaries of worldly fashion in dress and bodily ornamentation consume funds that could be used in service to others.

There are ways by which we can overcome the drive to consume the vast array of gadgets and services that many people think are necessary to wellbeing and happiness. Resist the urge for larger and more extravagantly furnished houses; learn to prepare meals by using simple nourishing recipes and only a small variety of dishes; forego pleasure driving and spend more time walking or bike riding; adopt simple nondecorative dress patterns so that there is no need to try and outdo one another to be different; maintain speech that is simple and free from wordy arguments (let your yes mean yes and your no mean no); keep worship services simple and without liturgy and formality (even music can be simple, unaccompanied by expensive musical instruments).

The simple life must be rooted in a desire for holiness and for conforming to the larger will of God as revealed in the Scriptures. If we seek to adjust to simpler modes of living in this spirit, we will find life richer rather than poorer.

–Harold S. Martin
January/February 1977