Too many people have been caught in what is called the Rat Race because they want to be able to compete for the world’s limited resources. They want to be up to date with fashion, entertainment and all the things the world has made us feel we cannot do without. I have found that in wanting to survive as the fittest, we are trapped in the dilemma of having to compete for our limited resources and also having to impress or oppress others. Thus, I believe cultivating the discipline of simplicity would help our pursuits of purpose. The discipline of simplicity is one very important way to get out of the Rat Race. Nigel March notes that people often work long hard hours at jobs they hate, to earn money to buy things they don’t need, to impress people they don’t like!Our understanding of Purpose and the cultivation of the discipline of simplicity saves us from committing this error.
This piece is a compilation of my gleanings from Richard Foster’s Celebrating Spiritual Disciplines and particularly, the chapter on the discipline of Simplicity.
I do not exactly know how to define simplicity but for the purpose of our discussion, let us just say it is the discipline of simplicity that is cultivated when we yield to the instruction to seek FIRST the Kingdom of God while every other things follow. Not to seek the kingdom of God first is not seek it at all.
We begin to enjoy the discipline of simplicity when we find that the lust for status and position is gone because we no longer need status to feel significant. We cease from showing extravagance not on grounds of being unable to afford it, but on the ground of principle. Richard E Byrd after some months on the barren Arctic said: “I am learning that… a man can live profoundly without masses of things”.
Our contemporary culture lacks both inward and outward simplicity – Inward as regards the attitude of simplicity and outward in terms of the lifestyle of simplicity. Our need for security has led into an insane attachment to things. We crave things we neither need nor enjoy. The media has convinced us that to be out of step with fashion is to be out of step with reality. We need to be awaken to the fact that conformity to a sick society is to be sick. Our society continues to mistake covetousness for ambition, hoarding for prudence and greed for industry.
The Bible clearly teaches about the matters of materialism and contentment:
No worker can serve two bosses: He’ll either hate the first and love the second or adore the first and despise the second. You can’t serve both God and the Bank. Luke 16:13 MSG
Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” Luke 12:15 NIV
Don’t be obsessed with getting more material things. Be relaxed with what you have. Since God assured us, “I’ll never let you down, never walk off and leave you,”Heb 13:5-6 MSG
What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Isn’t it because there is a whole army of evil desires within you? 2 You want what you don’t have, so you kill to get it. You long for what others have, and can’t afford it, so you start a fight to take it away from them. And yet the reason you don’t have what you want is that you don’t ask God for it. James 4:1-2 TLB
Tell those who are rich not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which will soon be gone, but their pride and trust should be in the living God who always richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and should give happily to those in need, always being ready to share with others whatever God has given them. By doing this they will be storing up real treasure for themselves in heaven-it is the only safe investment for eternity! And they will be living a fruitful Christian life down here as well. 1 Tim 6:17-19 TLB
Clearly, the Scripture is against materialism. The scripture however, does not condone extreme asceticism for it is God that gives the ability to make wealth (Deut. 8:17). The scripture’s solution to the dilemma of the Rat Race is the discipline of simplicity. It is simplicity that sets us to receive provision from God as a gift that is not ours to keep and can be freely shared. Below are 12 simple ways to cultivate the discipline of simplicity and work your way out of the Rat Race.
Learn to receive all that you have as gifts from God. Understand that though you work, you are not sustained by your work. It is God that sustains you.
Learn that it is God’s business, to care for what you have. While you take necessary precautions for security, understand that if God has given you something, He’ll maintain it for you. Trust Him.
Learn to have your things available to others. That way, you don’t get attached to your things so much as to be distracted from seeking first God’s Kingdom and His Purpose for your life.
Learn to buy things for their usefulness rather than their status. When you are considering buying an apartment for example, emphasis should be placed on livability rather than the impression on others.
Reject anything producing an addiction in you. To discern an addiction, watch out for undisciplined compulsions.
Develop the habit of giving things away. If you find that you are getting attached to a particular thing, you may want to consider giving it away to someone who needs it.
Refuse to be propagandized by custodians of modern gadgetry. Some folks change their mobile phones as soon as a newer model is out. Never let your significance be defined by the stuffs you have. The fact that you have a purpose which is critical to God’s global plan makes you deeply significant.
Learn to enjoy things without owning them. Our culture is one that emphasizes owning things even when you can’t afford those things. If there’s a book you need, but can’t afford at the moment, instead of complaining and nagging, borrow the book and learn without owning it.
Develop a deeper appreciation for creation. Do your best to walk when you can. Celebrate nature.
Be careful of “buy now; pay later” schemes. This is particularly important for those in the working class. Be careful of loans and mortgages. Simplicity demands the application of caution before incurring any debt.
Reject anything that breeds oppression of others. It just does not pay for God is the Saviour of the oppressed. You don’t want to be trapped in a battle with Him.
Shun anything that distracts you from seeking first the Kingdom of God and His Purpose for your life. Let God help you judge yourself each day if anything upon this earth attracts you with its sense of worth.
I end this with this quote for Lecrae Moore’s Got Paper
Now look at 1 Timothy 6, it’s so clear.
You chase the money and wind up in a snare.
Now a vow of poverty, no, it’s not there
But you pursue God, the rest, He takes care.
May God grant us the courage and wisdom to always put God’s Kingdom as number one priority in our lives! See you next week, God willing!