Simplicity Made Simple | Simplicity and Justice
Written By Reid Kapple
Read: Deuteronomy 17:14-20.
How was Israel’s king supposed to practice simplicity? How would this practice have affected his people?
Focus: This fall, we are focusing on the discipline of simplicity. Each week we will dig deeper into this discipline. Take the next 5 minutes to hear how simplicity makes the world a better place from Reid Kapple.
Simplicity and Justice – Why our neighbor needs our simplicity
Within our desires for and pursuit of wealth lies the latent potential for various vices that themselves can unleash all manner of evil in our world. It is not money itself or the inherent nature of having stuff that corrupts us and hurts others. Problems arise when, as the psalmist declares, we set our hearts upon such things.
Put no trust in extortion;
set no vain hopes on robbery;
if riches increase, set not your heart on them.
Notice that the psalmist places the evils of extortion and theft on the same level as the love of wealth. Theologian Derek Kidner rightly asserts from this psalm that the “Absorption with riches counts as no less perilous than a life of crime.” While the ways that extortion and theft violate others is obvious, it is not as apparent how our personal greed and consumption can bring about corporate injustices.
Broadly speaking, we struggle to view such matters from a collective perspective due to our highly individualistic culture. But if we are to follow Jesus in all of life, we must widen our scope to see how our personal decisions impact our neighbors, locally and globally.
Martin Luther once claimed that “God does not need your good works, but your neighbor does.” As we consider the discipline we are focusing on in theFormed.life, you could tweak Luther’s words to say “God does not need your simplicity, but your neighbor does.”
When we fall prey to things like lifestyle creep, keeping up with the Jones’, retail therapy, and our general consumerist culture, not only do we create self inflicted wounds that undo our own well being, but we can contribute to a culture that values the holy dollar above human dignity. Whether that is through the dehumanizing treatment of employees or from the economic and environmental costs that come from the mass production of low priced products, our contribution to the cycle of consumerism often brings about adverse consequences in the lives of vulnerable communities.
The discipline of simplicity is a way for us to take an inventory of what is in our hearts by observing what is in our homes. But it is also a way for us to take a brick out of the wall of our individualistic thinking in order that we might see how our personal pursuits, purchases, and possessions impact our neighbors.
In this sense, loving our neighbors is simpler than we realize.
Prayer: Ask God to help you imagine how you can use the practice of simplicity to benefit others. Write down anything that comes to mind.
Derek Kidner, Psalms: 1-72. (pg. 241) IVP Academic