A Christian's Guide to Minimalism

Minimalism and the Bible

I sat on the couch excited by the newest Netflix series. A young woman, bouncing with excitement, and radiant with delight to help, eagerly made her way through the front door of episode one. She wandered the home and pointed out places that very clearly needed help with organization. With tears of overwhelm swelling up in their eyes, the other two people in the home, the owners, shared why their lives had erupted in such a mess and vowed to minimize their clutter with the help of the Minimization Wizard who now graced their hallways. Intrigued by the notion of having a clean home, my eyes were glued to the screen. What sort of tips did this ever so tiny woman have tucked in her equally tiny sleeves? 

What happened next was the part where my brain started to get fuzzy, and a hot anger began to make my eye twitch. After thanking the clothing for being part of their lives, and downsizing the vast array of wardrobe that would make even Walmart jealous at the abundant collection, the smiling Clean-up Guru began to fold a t-shirt into bite-sized origami folds until said shirt stood at attention under her mad skills of shirt folding. The woman then proceeded to fold a pair of pants the same way. With a roomful of saluting attire, each item was carefully placed into the drawers so as to see every piece of clothing and give every shirt the attention it needs. 

No. Just no. I shut off the TV, and, with every ounce of sarcasm I could muster, I thanked the show for reminding me of the load of laundry I had once again left in the washing machine, and marched my way to the laundry room to start the wash for the second time…I don’t chide myself here, there was also likely a third round done a few days later. 

Own less, feel free. It seems so simple in theory. I mean, who wouldn’t want to just rent a dumpster, toss out every knick-knack that graces your countertops and closet, and experience a new-found freedom? Sounds down-right dreamy! Sign me up! It isn’t that owning less isn’t a good goal, it’s just that it sort of side-steps the true heart issues of freedom. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for decluttering and only carrying with you what you need, but I believe the motivation behind most decluttering/ simplifying/ downsizing/ minimalistic  mindset is missing one key aspect: the desire of want.

If a want is a need, and a desire is our deep longing for our need, than a “desire of want” is our deep longing for our needs to be met. To remove the distractions in our spaces only leaves space to recognize our longing for more. It perpetuates a cycle of removal followed by a desire to fill it

The place where the minimalists fall short is in the recognition of why all these people are stalk piling not just the clutter in their homes, but in their schedules. It is because of a lack of trust for God to provide. Our rebellious hearts seek after treasures to satisfy a deeply embedded, and God-given, desire to want. Like a square peg in a round hole, our earthy desires, and tempting tangible treasures never quite fit, so we buy another item and try it again. Or, maybe it isn’t tangible possessions that tempt your heart, so much as your desire to be known by others. How tempting to wear the brand names, drive a fancy vehicle, or create a charismatic persona in effort to gain popularity and in turn, people who know your name. The need to be known, to be loved, to eat, to have joy, are all important wants, and often we work tirelessly to fill these voids. 

But, look at this simple verse that God gives us. 

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. (ESV)

there is nothing I lack. (NASB)

I lack nothing. (NIV)

I don’t need a thing. (the Message)

There is nothing we need when we find ourselves laying peacefully at the feet of Jesus. Only God will do. Like sheep who need guidance, provision, shelter, and protection, the Good Shepherd knows our needs, and provides. As we sit in the satisfaction of his love and shelter, we can look closer at the tangible treasures around us that we have collected and see how they pale in comparison to the provisions of the Lord. Our desire to want should take us to the still waters and cool pastures where the Good Shepherd knows no such thing as to deprive His sheep, but rather offers us provision from a place of an abundance of love. It is here that we find our satisfaction. It is here that we can lay down our desires. 

    We can purge our belongings all we want, but until we frequent the still waters to seek out our Shepherd, our efforts to be less cluttered and busy will only help us acknowledge that our ache for more still exists. As we pair down our homes and schedules, let it not be simply for the vain necessity to join a movement, but rather out of the wisdom to know that there is little we truly need when we are in the shelter of God's wings and trusting in His ability to provide. 

I leave you with the lyrics from this song taken from my favourite verses in Matthew 6:25-34. May we grow in faith and wisdom to see past the worldly offering that simply owning/ doing less will will satisfy, and instead whole-heartedly trust God to meet all our needs.

Consider the lilies, they don’t toil nor spin

And there’s not a king with more splendor than them.

Consider the sparrows, they don’t plant nor sow,

But they’re fed by the Master who watches them grow.

We have a Heavenly Father above

With eyes so full of mercy and a heart full of love.

He really cares when Your head is bowed low.

Consider the lilies and then you will know.

(Consider the Lilies- written by Joel Hemphill)


Sarah- Like Grandma Did

Like Grandma Did

1 comment:

  1. I always like de-cluttering, but you're right that the space just gets re-filled again. May God help us all to realize we already have all we need, and to be satisfied in Him!


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