March 18, 2015

The Simple Life

Philippians 4:10-13

I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.

—  Philippians 4:12

The spiritual disciplines are tools that help us work with the Holy Spirit as he transforms us, through faith, to be more like Christ (see 2 Corinthians 3:18).

Jesus said, "Do not worry about your life. . . . For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes" (Luke 12:22-23). Jesus modeled a life of simplicity. Paul learned to be content in all situations.

Jesus and Paul also warned against greed. If we fall into patterns of greed, we fail to trust "our Father in heaven" (Matthew 6:9) for what we need in order to do all he wants us to do. When we lack trust in God, we try to "buy" security, but that can't be done (see Luke 12:16-21).

Grace transforms greed into gratitude, focusing on the Giver of "every good and perfect gift" (James 1:17) and not on his gifts. Simplicity keeps things in perspective. It frees us from hoarding, and we learn to accept with thanks and contentment all we are given.

We're especially grateful for God's grace and spiritual blessings to us in Christ (Ephesians 1:3). The Spirit's work in us keeps us focused on what's most important so that we can have an attitude of gratitude to God "in all circumstances" (1 Thessalonians 5:18). That's the discipline of simplicity. By God's grace, may we know the peace and joy of the simple life in Christ!

Gracious God, thank you for redeeming us. Teach us the discipline of simplicity, that we may have full life in you. Amen.

About the author — Norman F. Brown

Chaplain Norman F. Brown graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, in 1969. He served aboard destroyers during the Vietnam conflict and ashore in San Diego, Calif., as an instructor. By then God had made clear his call to work in pastoral ministry, and Norman entered Calvin Theological Seminary, graduating in 1980. Chaplain Brown pastored churches during his ministry career but spent most of his time as a navy chaplain. During one assignment he served three years at Holy Loch, Scotland, where he and his wife, Ruth, encountered the Iona Community and their emphasis on spiritual disciplines. Chaplain and Mrs. Brown have three married children and nine grandchildren.

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