Someone has said, “Live simply that others may simply live.” Of course, there is no automatic relationship between my simple living and someone else being rescued from starvation or reached with the gospel. There is only a relationship if I, in fact, use the resources I have freed up to feed the hungry and reach the lost. This itself assumes I will continue to make a decent wage. For if I go off and pursue simple living for simple living’s sake, spending what little I earn on myself, it does no good for anyone else. The point is not merely saying “no” to money and things, but using money and things to say “yes” to God.
How can we live more simply? There are thousands of ways. We can buy used cars rather than new, modest houses rather than expensive ones. We don’t have to replace older furniture just for appearances. We can mend and wear clothes we already have, shop at thrift stores, give up recreational shopping and costly clothes and jewelry, cut down on expensive convenience foods, and choose less costly exercise and recreation. Some of us can carpool, use public transportation, or a bike instead of a car or second car. But these are things few of us will do unless we have clear and compelling reasons. Here are six:
1. We should live more simply—and give more generously—because Heaven is our home.
The single greatest deterrent to giving—and to living more simply—is the illusion that this world is our home.
Suppose your home were in France and you were visiting the United States for 80 days, living in a hotel. Furthermore, suppose there’s a rule that says you can’t take anything back to France on your flight home, nor can you ship anything or carry back money with you. But while you’re in America, you can earn money and send deposits to your bank in France. Question: Would you fill your hotel room with expensive furnishings and extravagant wall hangings? Of course not. Why? Because your time in America is so short, and you know you can’t take it with you. It’s just a hotel room! If you’re wise, you’ll send your treasures home, knowing they’ll be waiting for you when you arrive.
We’re here on earth on a short-term visa. It’s about to expire! Don’t spend too much time and money and energy on your hotel room when instead you can send it on ahead.
2. We should live more simply—and give more generously—because it frees us up and shifts our center of gravity.
Copernicus sparked a revolution when he proved that the sun doesn’t revolve around the earth. Giving will spark a Copernican revolution in the lives of Christians who understand that life doesn’t revolve around the things of earth. In giving, we surrender our possessions to their proper center of gravity: God. Life no longer revolves around houses and land and cars and things. Giving—and the simpler living that results when we give—breaks us out of Money’s orbit and sets up for us a new center of gravity, in Heaven.
3. We should live more simply—and give more generously—because we’re God’s pipeline.
Christians are God’s delivery people through which he does his giving to a needy world. We are conduits of God’s grace to others. If we forget that we’re God’s stewards—his delivery drivers—it’s like FedEx or UPS forgetting that what they carry in their trucks doesn’t belong to them. When that happens, deliveries grind to a halt and people don’t get what they need.
God comes right out and tells us why He gives us more money than we need. It’s not so we can find more ways to indulge ourselves and spoil our children. It’s not so we can insulate ourselves from needing God’s provision. It’s so we can give and give generously (2 Corinthians 8:14; 2 Corinthians 9.11″ data-version=”esv” data-purpose=”bible-reference”>9:11).