Something I am passionate about is living simply. I wouldn’t call myself a minimalist when it comes to my aesthetic taste, but I certainly love the idea of a minimalist lifestyle. In the west we have become obsessed with material wealth, and it’s making it hard for us to live truly biblical lifestyles.
I don’t believe the prosperity gospel has a place in the Christian life if one reads the Bible objectively. Many verses not only suggest that we shouldn’t consciously pursue a life of material success, but even suggest that we should aim to live simple and humble lifestyles. This is shocking to those who base their lives on the American dream and attempt to mold the gospel to fit this agenda.
As I’m not a fan of the minimalist aesthetic (I personally think plain white rooms with hardly anything in them are cold and boring), I’d like to propose a minimalist lifestyle without the aesthetic style (unless you like minimalist style, of course). I believe in living simply in every area of one’s life. The home is a great place to start, but it can’t be the only area of one’s life that is simplified. Here are four areas of your life that you can apply minimalist values to:
In America we are told to be as busy as possible. As many activities, groups, clubs, extracurriculars, and whatever else we can get involved in, the better. This is especially true for high school and college students. In high school, kids are encouraged to do activities that will look impressive on their college applications. In college, it’s often just expected that you’re involved in some way in your college community. I’ve always gone against the grain in this area. I’m a sophomore in college and aside from work, I’m not involved in any extracurriculars (come on, school is hard enough as it is).
Although I’m fine with my lack of involvement and don’t feel like I’m missing out, sometimes I feel like a second rate student because in America we’re constantly told to base our identity on what we do and what we’re involved in. But this isn’t what the Bible tells us at all. God cares about two main things — our relationship with Him and our treatment of others. We should put time with God before everything else, and after that we should prioritize being generous and caring towards others.
I recently found out about the whole capsule wardrobe trend and got really excited. I’m not exactly rich, and I’m not a big shopper, so naturally I have less clothes than most people. I tend to get attached to a select few items and wear them over and over again. I have no problem with this, but for a while I felt self-conscious about my limited wardrobe because I thought other people might judge me (insecure, I know).
Since I heard about capsule wardrobes I’ve become content with having less clothes and even aim to keep my wardrobe small and get rid of items I don’t want or need. I already filled a trash bag full of clothes I no longer wear, and I’m thinking of getting rid of even more. I love fashion, but I also think that clothes are just clothes and shouldn’t be a priority in our lives. I love pinning outfits on Pinterest, but I also have a lot of self-control when it comes to spending money on clothing.
This carries on from the last area. It’s not just clothing that we should be hesitant to buy, but everything. I try to only buy things I actually need, and if I’m buying something fun, I usually only buy things that I’ve wanted for a really long time. This really limits my spending and helps me to save money.
As Christians, we should prioritize giving. If we cut down on frivolous spending, we’ll have more money to give, whether it’s a monthly payment (like a child sponsorship), or spontaneous, one-time giving. The reality is that you don’t have to be rich to be generous. Instead of using the excuse that you don’t make much as it is, make a conscious effort to stop buying frivolous things (like Starbucks every other day) so that you have more money to give to those in need.
As I’ve already said, I am not usually a fan of the minimalist aesthetic. I don’t like homes to be too cluttered and busy, but I definitely like them to be cozy and personal. Unlike hardcore minimalists, I like having quite a few personal items around because I think it’s important for one’s home to reflect one’s personality. However, it’s wise to practice the same sort of financial self-restraint when it comes to home decor, and to get rid of unnecessary clutter.
Confession: I used to be a huge hoarder. I had so much clutter in my room that I began to get used to having mess everywhere. But then I chose to get rid of things that served no purpose. Although this is hard at first, it’s so freeing. We often keep so much stuff we don’t even need or use just because it’s what we’ve always done, but getting rid of excess helps to remind you that things aren’t the most important things in your life.
The reason I added the word “humbly” is because I don’t think that just living a simple lifestyle is enough. You can have a minimalist home and wardrobe yet spend ridiculous amounts of money on the things you do have and still be overly concerned with impressing others with brand names and the latest trends. You can be a minimalist yet still be snobby and spoiled and obsessed with your reputation (like how impressive your job is and what college you went to).
I know not everyone would agree with me, but I don’t think we should be spending ridiculous amounts of money on things as Christians, and we should never focus on being successful in the world’s eyes.
In my opinion, living simply and humbly not only means buying less and spending less, but it means having a grateful attitude and maintaining a humble mindset.
It means believing that everyone really is equal, regardless of their education or career.
It means refusing to be a part of the rat race or keep up with the Joneses.
It means not taking things for granted and refusing to compare your life with everyone else’s.
It means not caring about the things that this world obsesses over, but focusing on what God values instead.
Some Bible verses that inspire us to live simply and humbly:
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. |Matthew 6:19-21|
Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions. |Luke 12:15|
All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. |Acts 2:44-45|
Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands… so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody. |1 Thessalonians 4:11-12|
But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. |1 Timothy 6:6-8|
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. |1 Timothy 6:10|
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have |Hebrews 13:5|
Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. |James 1:9|
So if you’ve been thinking about simplifying your life and breaking free from the American consumerist mindset, I hope this post inspired you in some way. I don’t mean to attack those who aren’t doing these things. I’m just trying to emulate what I believe to be the ideal Christian lifestyle, as is exemplified for us throughout the Bible.
God never intended for us to get caught up in worldly things, whether it be materialism or trying to impress everyone with our lifestyles. So I hope you have the boldness to drop out of the rat race and live simply and humbly.