The Call to Contentment Through Spiritual Minimalism
This year, August came in a slow blur.
It’s one of those months that tends to feel like a Sunday; holding anticipation, excitement, and maybe a little anxiety for what’s to come on Monday. August is a gift that leaves us with the last of summer’s light and warmth as we turn our lives toward fall, winter, and the end of another year.
I read a quote this week written by someone unnamed that read,
“August is the bridge between summer and autumn – between how the year has been and how the year will end.”
This year, as summer slowly comes to an end, there’s an undercurrent of desire that I’ve been working on naming these past few months.
As August arrives and summer slowly dies, I sense my soul wanting to let go.
To let go of things that I no longer want or, more importantly, that I no longer need.
To make a shift in priorities that begins in the soul and permeates into my daily life.
Minimalism is a term that I’m only just starting to get acquainted with thanks to author and blogger, Joshua Becker. In his words,
“Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value by the removal of anything that distracts us from it.”
As I understand it, it’s about adopting the mentality of less is more, and by having less, you create more time and space for more of what’s most important to you or for more of what God is wanting you to tend to in this season of life.
You may hear the word “minimalism” and think that it just applies to getting rid of material possessions. While this is part of it, I think minimalism is an invitation to something deeper.
We live in a society that promotes consumerism – the act of consuming and taking in. Consuming food, material items, money, social status, social media, and even the approval of our peers to name a few.
But minimalism, being a minimalist, invites us to let go of things that weigh us down both physically and soulfully by beckoning us to live a life rooted in contentment found in Jesus.
We Weren’t Called to Be Gluttons
I think the true root cause of being an overconsumer is the lie that more will make us happy. It’s giving into and living out of a constant state of discontentment by worshipping the idol of self.
Before we dive deeper into the topic of contentment, I want to touch briefly on why being an overconsumer isn’t the kind of life that Jesus invites us into.
Being an overconsumer means consuming way too much of something. Another name for overconsuming that we see throughout the Bible is the sin of gluttony. Proverbs 13:25 warns us against this way of life,
“Do not associate with heavy drinkers of wine, or with gluttonous eaters of meat, for the heavy drinker and the glutton will come to poverty, and the drowsiness [of overindulgence] will clothe one with rags.” (AMP)
When we think of gluttony, most of us probably think of the act of overconsuming food. But gluttony takes many shapes and comes in many forms, some of them we’ve already named; money, sex, material possessions, busyness, approval, alcohol, social media, etc.
God’s Word tells us that for those who live with this kind of mentality, “their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things (Philippians 3:19, ESV)”.
A gluttonous, overconsuming mindset is a heart fixed on earthly things and a soul fixed on serving only self. Essentially, this overconsuming that our society has deemed as “normal” is actually inherently selfish and doesn’t leave room for the peace and power of God in our lives.
And that’s where the invitation to live with a minimalist mindset actually turns into an invitation to find contentment.
An Invitation To Contentment In Jesus
By definition, to be content means to be in a state of peaceful happiness; satisfied, delighted, fulfilled, and unworried.
This seems like no small task in today’s world and some days, it feels downright impossible. But the Apostle Paul in Philippians 4:11-13 gives us the secret to living a content life,
“Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” (NLT)
The secret to a joyful, abundant, and content life is rooting our souls – our very identities – at the feet of Jesus. It’s believing that He really is our Shepherd and in Him, we have all that we need and abundantly more (Psalm 23:1).
This doesn’t mean that because we are in Jesus we won’t face hardship, pain, or devastating loss, for Jesus Himself said before He departed from this world that we would face trouble. But He didn’t stop there; He reassured us that when we do face trouble, He has already overcome it (John 16:33).
And when we stand in the overcoming power of Jesus, we can face those trials and storms and still find joy, peace, and all that we need.
Gluttony, believing the lie that more of anything but Jesus will fulfill us or make us whole, will never bring contentment to our souls. Jesus, in Luke 9:23-24, explains how we are to root ourselves in Him and what a truly devoted life looks like.
“And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to follow Me [as My disciple], he must deny himself [set aside selfish interests], and take up his cross daily [expressing a willingness to endure whatever may come] and follow Me [believing in Me, conforming to My example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in Me]. For whoever wishes to save his life [in this world] will [eventually] lose it [through death], but whoever loses his life [in this world] for My sake, he is the one who will save it [from the consequences of sin and separation from God].” (AMP)
Essentially, to follow Jesus and find abundance and contentment in Him, there’s an emptying of ourselves that must happen to make room for His presence to fill us.
The more we empty of ourselves, the more love we have to give; the less we crave earthly things, and the more we thirst for the things of heaven. And the more we thirst and hunger for the things of heaven, the more in line with God’s will for our lives we will be.
God’s Word says in Psalm 1:1-3 that when we are walking in step with the will of God – when we are rooted in Him and making the consumption of His presence our utmost priority – we will find true fulfillment, joy, and satisfaction.
“Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither — whatever they do prospers.” (NIV)
We are our truest selves when we abandon the lie that God isn’t enough and respond to His invitation to make Him the foundation upon which we live our lives.
Spiritual Minimalism & Assessing Your Heart
So, minimalism – in a spiritual sense – is really taking a soul inventory and asking ourselves these 4 questions:
- Is what I’m doing or consuming taking the place of God?
- Am I idolizing this thing – whatever it may be – and believing that it can fill me in ways that God can’t?
- Am I overconsuming in areas of my life where God wants me to be emptied in order to be filled with more of Him? If so, what are those areas?
For me, personally, I feel the Lord inviting me into minimalism with material possessions. I feel Him calling me gently away from society’s lie that in order to be of worth, you must have an expensive car, a big, well-decorated house, an impressive job title, and fancy clothes.
In place of that, I hear Him inviting me into contentment found in having more of Him and finding joy in giving rather than always receiving.
Another area of my life where I feel invited into this spiritual minimalism is social media and paying attention to what I consume through my screens. Lately, social media has felt so loud and soul-cramping. I’ve been monitoring my own screen time because I’ve found that the less time I spend in front of a screen, the more at peace I feel.
The absence of technology creates more space for God in my life.
The more we empty ourselves of what keeps us from being our truest selves in the Lord, the more fulfilled and at peace we become.
We were intricately designed this way, friend – to only find contentment and true happiness in the One who crafted our very souls.
Having a good life comes from being constantly engaged with the Giver of Life.
I think back now to Joshua Becker’s definition of minimalism, “Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value by the removal of anything that distracts us from it.”
And I can’t help but point out that as believers, what we most value should be Christ and His will for us. Therefore, spiritual minimalism is removing anything in our lives – physically or intrinsically – that takes the place of Christ in us; anything that diminishes His light and glory in our lives.
An Abundant Life
I know this call to surrender all may seem daunting, and I don’t say any of this to shame you. I say it because I know God loves you far too much to have you settle for a life that’s lukewarm at best.
He aches when you feel empty and it breaks His heart when you run to other things that only bring temporary satisfaction, and leave you damaged and broken.
He calls you to something greater, friend. He calls you to a life of love, abundance, joy, peace, and purpose. All of that and more can only be found in Him, and I pray that truth would inspire you to take a loving look at your heart and assess the areas that need less of this world and more of Jesus’s presence.
I want to end here with a quote from author, Victoria Moran that says,
“A simple life is not seeing how little we can get by with — that’s poverty — but how efficiently we can put first things first… When you’re clear about your purpose and your priorities, you can painlessly discard whatever does not support these, whether it’s clutter in your cabinets or commitments on your calendar.”
You are God’s handiwork, friend, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for you to do (Ephesians 2:10). My prayer is that on this grand journey called life, we could find inner peace in simplicity with Jesus, living out His good purpose for our lives.
That we could shed what takes away from our identity as His Beloved, and fill ourselves up with more of what draws us closer to Jesus.
Today, friend, you can choose to do more of what draws you deeper into the presence of God, and let go of all the rest.
You can choose to believe that you are God’s Beloved, and in Him, you have all that you need and abundantly more.
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