We hear this all the time, don’t we? Simplify. Go paperless. Organize. Less is more. Establish minimalist decor. Live in balance. Validate your feelings.
I would like to call your attention back to “I Thessalonians” where this same subject was discussed. Timothy had just returned with the good report that these new Christians were doing okay in spite of persecution. In fact, their love for the Lord Jesus and for each other was being talked about all over northern Greece. They were also laying foundations for the gospel that would spread beyond Greece into today’s eastern Europe and northern Turkey. Because of this, Paul wanted to continue to teach them what to believe and how to live. He gave them a prescription for living the simple life:
… we urge you, brothers, to do this (love one another) more and more, and to aspire to live quietly and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one (I Thess. 4:10-12).
Living simply: Love others. Mind your own business. Work hard. Don’t look down on manual labor. Rely on yourself. Don’t look for a hand-out. The result will be a quiet life that will cause others to look at you and wonder…Why? …How?…..
However, before all these, Paul firmly explained something more that would simplify their lives:
For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the LORD is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you ( 4:3-6).
Think about the complications avoided when sexual purity is a way of life! When we violate this command, we wrong the very people we are to be loving. Paul had already instructed them in what he meant; he defined sexual immorality in his letters to other churches as well. No sex before marriage (avoid fornication). No sexual relationship with anyone other than your husband or wife (otherwise it is adultery). No physical intimacy with another of the same sex.
How could this be accomplished in a culture gone wild? Through a fear of God and the self-control given by the Spirit (4:7-8). The Comforter was to come into Christians with strength to resist lust. No matter what the people around them were doing. No matter what the culture thought was okay.
Want to simplify your life? It’s simple. No matter your age or your social group or ethnic heritage:
Avoid sexual immorality,
Mind your own business,
Work with your hands,
Rely on yourself; be independent.
Five pursuits for an uncomplicated life…; enabled only through the fruit of the Spirit grown from the gospel taking root in the good soil of a heart changed through God’s unmerited favor. Fruit of the Spirit like love, self-control, and patience to live the simple life.
My husband, John, loved others, was faithful to me, kept his nose out of other’s affairs, worked hard and long, and relied on himself, never asking for a handout. A lot of people were watching him and wondering, “How does he do it?” “Why does he live like that?” He set a clear example for our five grandchildren to follow. I hope they will.
Can you name the five characteristics of the simple life? Let’s see now……