There isn’t a magic number of things we can own and still be godly. That’s not the point. Recently, though, I’ve come to realize that less really is more when it comes to my possessions as well as my schedule. The more stuff I clear out of our home, the more my eyes open to the reasons the Bible tells us not to focus on accumulating earthly things.
I found it difficult to express the ways minimizing our home bolstered my relationship with God until I took a closer look at the lifestyle of Jesus. The life of Christ is usually studied in a timeline of His actions, and rightfully so. Everything He did, from His miraculous birth to His death, burial, and resurrection, is purposeful and meaningful in our lives today.
Behind the actions of God’s Son, though, is a wealth of…nothing. Jesus had a single-minded focus on doing God’s will. He was able to maintain this focus because He wasn’t bogged down with boxes of heirlooms, closets of outfits, and garages of Christmas decorations to haul around.
I know the thought of Jesus loading a U-Haul of belongings to travel around preaching to the masses is laughable. You might argue that His life actions are more important than His simple lifestyle, and I wouldn’t disagree. What I have found, though, as I’ve taken steps toward minimalism, is that the less stuff I own, the more capable I feel.
Maybe Jesus was onto something with His simple lifestyle.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve always taken Jesus’ humble circumstances in His earthly life for granted. That’s how it was prophesied He would live, and that’s how He lived.
If He’d wanted, Jesus could have been born to a wealthy family. Surely with money and earthly influence, He could have reached more people, broadened His ministry, and lived in more comfort during His days on earth. Instead, He didn’t even have a home during His adult life. He walked from town to town with the clothes on His back and the sandals on His feet.
I’m not advocating selling everything we have and giving it to the poor so we can follow Jesus with one outfit and pair of shoes. But we should be willing to. Do you remember Jesus talking to the rich young ruler? Wasn’t the point of that whole conversation to point out what He wasn’t willing to give up for Jesus?
Would you be willing to give up all of your possessions—heirlooms, Christmas decorations, and all—if Jesus asked you to? That question has made me look at my stuff very differently. I don’t want to be the rich young ruler clinging to my possessions above my Savior.
While few of us are likely to get rid of as much stuff as Jesus asked the rich young ruler to, I honestly believe that modeling our lifestyle after our Savior’s is still a pretty good idea. We can’t put ourselves in His shoes, but what about imagining Him in ours? If Jesus lived in your house, what stuff would He keep?
When I asked myself that question, I came to a very easy answer. Jesus would keep the things that helped Him to worship and minister. Jesus prioritized relationships:
His simple lifestyle gave Him the ability to focus on these relationships, even within the limits of His human form.
While I am still in the process of minimizing our home, I have already begun to experience how having fewer things cluttering my house helps me live more like Jesus lived by giving me more time, energy, and space for the relationships that He would prioritize.
1. A Simpler Lifestyle Gives More Time for Relationships
When I started simplifying our home several months ago, I didn’t have spiritual reasons. I wanted our apartment to feel less cluttered, to be easier to clean and to have more floor space for our baby to learn to crawl. As things started disappearing into trash bags and donation boxes though, a magical feeling of possibility was left behind.
All of that time started to add up.
I’m still in the process of simplifying our home, but I can tell you, my attitude about cleaning each room has vastly improved. I no longer feel overwhelmed. Each task takes less time than it used to. In the calmer, cleaner spaces of our home, I don’t miss the clutter. Instead, I feel inspired.
My time with God becomes longer and less distracted. Instead of fighting against the distraction of my mental checklist of things to be done and how I can squeeze them into my day, I feel free to peacefully meditate on His Word and commune in prayer. Why? Because my checklist is manageable.
Time for friends who need encouragement or a ministry that needs volunteers becomes easier to give. I can be present in fellowship and service because our home is manageable. The stress of mundane things like laundry, dishes, and organizing is not as overwhelming as it once was.
I still have a long way to go in my minimizing journey, but if I’m already feeling more able to spend my time the way Jesus would, isn’t it worth it?
2. A Simpler Lifestyle Gives Energy for Relationships
Less time spent managing our home means less energy spent keeping up with my stuff. Less is more because the less mental, physical, and emotional energy I pour into keeping our living space livable, the more mental, physical, and emotional energy I have to invest in relationships God has given me.
Clutter, for me, comes with a heavy price tag. It fills me with guilt. It zaps my motivation. It increases my reclusive tendencies.
I feel guilty about clutter because:
You might think that escalated quickly, and maybe I’m exaggerating a little, but can you identify with any of these feelings? When I allow earthly possessions to weigh me down with mental and emotional guilt, my energy is drained. But, when I make a conscious choice to get rid of those excess things, I feel energized.
Only after starting this journey of purging the excess in our home did I realize that I had been allowing the stress of too much stuff to keep me from being usable to God. I suddenly felt more available to Him. The more things I relinquished, the more available I became.
God didn’t change or move or suddenly notice me. He’s always been there wanting to use me. I just, more often than not, was too tired, stressed, or preoccupied to notice.
3. A Simpler Lifestyle Gives Space for Relationships
Simplifying our home is gradually giving me more time and energy for my relationships with God and the people He’s put in my life, but it is also opening up space.
Don’t misunderstand me. Simplifying your possessions isn’t a one-way ticket to the land of limitless time, energy, and space. We are human. We all have limits.
But God knows our limits. Our natural limits. Not the limits we impose on ourselves by accumulating so much stuff in our homes, events on our schedules, and people on our social media accounts that we can’t even function anymore.
If you peel all of those layers back one by one until you get to the basics, that is where you find the person that God made and redeemed. Once you give all the excess stuff in your life back to Him, you might find that He brings along just the right amount of stuff, events, and people to fit into your life without breaking your limits.
I am definitely not a full minimalist, at least not yet. I’m not qualified to give advice on how to declutter your home and simplify your life. I’m just a sinner learning to live a little bit more like my Savior, and I have found that getting back to the basics and rejecting the excess that keeps trying to creep in helps me focus on what is really important in life.
What’s important? Jesus said,
“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” Matthew 22:37-40
I found that stuff and busyness are often what comes between me and fulfilling the two greatest commandments. The same might not be true for you. But let’s try together to say “Yes, Lord,” when He asks us to give up whatever it is that stands between us and a thriving relationship with God and others. Let’s not be like the rich young ruler who walked away sorrowfully. Let’s be willing to give up whatever it takes for us to be useful followers of Jesus.
Have you ever thought of minimalism helping you to live a life more like Jesus?
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