Choosing Simplicity and Contentment in a Busy World
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5
As the apostle Paul reminds us in the book of Hebrews, we are called to be content with what we have and not worry about tomorrow for God will never leave or forsake us. We know this wisdom, but sometimes find it difficult to live by in our noisy world. Our culture continually tells us we need and deserve more—more recognition, more power, more wealth, more things. Our quest to try and obtain all of these goals, can make it challenging to find contentment. One way to shift our focus away from temporal gains to a more eternal perspective is to simplify our lives and seek contentment each day.
Pursuing simplicity may look different depending on what stage of life we are in. For retirees or empty nesters, simplifying life may look like downsizing and eliminating many of the possessions we have collected over the years. If we are in the height of our careers or raising a family, then maybe living a simpler life involves taking inventory of our time to ensure we are investing in what really matters to us. Young adults just beginning their career can seek simplicity by setting boundaries on technology use, amounts they will spend on certain purchases, etc.
We can all benefit from stepping out of the weeds of our everyday routines and bringing the big picture into focus. Here are some points to keep in mind.
Remember what is fleeting and what is eternal
In what is sometimes called the ‘Paradox of Possessions,’ we continually compare ourselves to others and try to keep up with the latest trend; yet once we gain what we were seeking, the goalpost moves. We quickly get used to new possessions and their novelty wears off. We then start looking for a better version of what we already have almost instantly.
Technology is a great example of this paradox. Initially, cell phones were a convenient luxury to keep us more connected. Now, they are a necessity that we continually upgrade to gain the newest features and latest technology.
It’s crucial to realize what is eternally important—most likely our loved ones, relationships, and the ways we impact the world—and make that our priority. Contentment doesn’t come at a certain income level but simplifying allows us to buy more time for what matters.
Less gives you more
Spending less money on possessions will put more cash in our wallets and give us fewer items to maintain and store. Organizing consultant and author, Marie Kondo, has built an empire on the KonMari Method she shares in her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. She encourages people to analyze each item in their home and determine what brings them joy and discard what does not. Whether we use the KonMari Method or not, purging and downsizing can bring a new sense of freedom, clarity, and balance.
Living simply also applies to how we spend our time. Minimalism expert Joshua Becker says, “Most of us have filled our days from beginning to end with time commitments: work, home, kids’ activities, community events, religious endeavors, hobbies…the list goes on. When possible, release yourself from the time commitments that are not in line with your greatest values.”
Money comes and goes—we are simply stewards of the resources God has entrusted to us. This strategy also applies to time spent using digital resources. Living among physical clutter is stressful, but the same is true of our digital lives. Whether it is television, social media, or gaming, there is a fine line between being informed or entertained versus consumed. It is helpful to realize how to utilize technology in a meaningful way but also set limits to how much screen time is beneficial.
Steward your resources well
At Ronald Blue Trust, we encourage our clients to set financial finish lines and boundaries for how they spend their money. For example, they may determine limits for what they’re willing or able to spend for a car or house. Setting a reasonable boundary and making peace with what they can afford is a beneficial exercise and can give them greater flexibility and less stress. Determining ‘How much is enough?’ before making financial choices, can lead to less buyer’s remorse, a larger bank balance, more satisfaction with our decisions, and a greater sense of control over our financial futures.
Since we can only spend a particular dollar once, it’s wise to determine our priorities. Spending more than necessary on goods or services gives us less funds to apply toward other areas of our lives. Conversely, saving on unnecessary purchases or expenses gives us more money to enjoy elsewhere, and prioritizing our commitments can give us more time to invest in what matters to us.
Lastly, remember that attaching our joy and contentment to current events often leads to emotional turmoil. Our true identity and self-worth come from the Lord, not the stock market, material possessions, or personal wealth. Strive to invest in sources of eternal contentment.
Matthew 6:19-21 sums it up nicely: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”