We have considered four key areas of learning discipleship: Gratitude, Forgiveness, Trust and Hospitality/Generosity. These are things we continually learn and grow in as we mature in discipleship.
These are some of the key qualities of a disciple. Then there comes the doing–the integration of the inner qualities and outer expression. The living of discipleship is the place where faith is expressed in action. In fact, action is an integral part of our faith. The writer of James reminds us that faith without works is empty. Our call is to be hearers and doers of the Word. So we practice the doing just as we practice the being.
If we have gratitude, what would living as grace-filled people of good will look like?
Living in simplicity is one way we express gratitude.
Living simply does not necessarily mean you will live a Spartan life, the life of an ascetic or hermit. It does, however, call us to make decisions that enable us to live with simplicity so that we have the energy and resources to express other qualities like forgiveness, trust and generosity.
We can ask ourselves questions like: do I really need this (insert here things like model of car, new outfit, bigger house, kitchen gadget, power tool, etc.). Now, maybe you do need a certain size vehicle to meet the needs of your family or business, or that power tool that will enable you to repair instead of dispose of or to help your neighbour with a project. And maybe, you don’t. The thing is to honestly ask yourself the question and honestly answer.
If we have more than we need, living simply frees us to use the extra we have in service of others who do not have enough to simply live. If we have just enough, living simply helps us find that place of contentment and grace. Whatever our circumstances in life, simplicity of daily living leads to the path of contentment.
The discipleship action of simplicity is not an act of unpleasant sacrifice; nor does it mean we won’t have any special moments or events in our lives. Simplicity becomes an expression of gratitude and a way of living that expresses the abundance that is available to all–not an abundance of stuff, but an abundance of joy, an abundance that comes from the knowledge that God has given us a world with enough for all. There is a great freedom in not feeling we have to have every “thing” out there or the biggest or the splashiest of whatever it is.
This can also extend to a simplicity of relationships. We don’t need to prove anything, put conditions and rules and long lists of regulations around relationships, how we connect with each other. We simply need to be kind. No one knows what another person has fully experienced, is going through, or has had to face in life. The simplicity of kindness is the grace-filled way to connect and relate to others. Fred Rogers, of Mister Rogers Neighbourhood, once said, “There are three ways to ultimate success: The first way is to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind.”
Think about some specific ways you might begin to live and act with simplicity. How might you begin this discipleship path to simplicity?