What Does the Bible Say about Minimalism?
By Stewardship.com Team, Crosswalk.com
Let’s talk about your stuff for a few minutes—everything you own, from your car and your furniture to your clothes and your gadgets. We want you to consider a few questions when it comes to your relationship with all those things:
Did you buy them because they bring you joy or serve a practical purpose? Or did you buy on an impulse and then never even use them?
Were you truly able to afford them so that they didn’t derail your financial goals? Or are you still paying them off?
Do they help—or at least not interfere with—God’s calling on your life? Or do they prevent you from living that out?
Do you take care of them so they last? Or are you constantly replacing them?
And most importantly, do you realize at the end of the day, it’s all just stuff? Or do you place your identity in it and value it above most other things in your life?
So how’d you do? If you’re unhappy with any of your answers, it means you might need some guidance. Let’s talk about it.
A Matter of Perspective
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus explains how we should live among material possessions:
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matthew 6:19–21 NASB).
That’s an important reminder when it comes to stuff—and even money. We’re called to put our faith not in the things that fill our garages and closets (or bank accounts), but in our Creator.
We’re called to put our faith not in the things that fill our garages and closets (or bank accounts), but in our Creator.
Makes sense, right? Unfortunately, many Americans love their stuff—a lot. They love shopping for it, collecting it, showing it off, and putting their identity in it.
Now, big disclaimer here: We’re not against stuff, or even you having it—even some really nice stuff! What we are against is the wrong perspective. In other words, we don’t want your stuff to have you—to hold you hostage or distance you from what really matters.
Christ wants you to live a full life in Him alone, and to do that, you have to realize this: Every possession is a blessing from Him. He wants you to be grateful! Understanding that allows you to find your identity and fulfillment in Him and to be content with what you have.
That’s what a healthy relationship with your stuff looks like!
Contentment and Minimalism
Problems start when discontentment creeps in. Instead of turning to Christ, you turn to your favorite store. You buy things hoping to find happiness or to keep up with your friends. But it’s never enough, so you buy more and more, hoping to feel complete. It’s exhausting! Contentment fixes the problem.
Paul talks about the importance of contentment in his letter to Timothy: “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 NIV).
Contentment is a big idea behind a movement called minimalism that’s gaining popularity in America right now. Minimalism encourages decluttering our lives by getting rid of the things we don’t use or find great joy in. That lets us focus on the most important things—like Christ, our relationships and meaningful experiences.
Eliminating excess means you’re not stressing about maintaining, paying for, or storing all that stuff. Your stuff doesn’t define you or your life. That truth fosters contentment and creates space for Jesus.
Now, minimalism is not Christianity. You can follow Jesus and still own some nice stuff. But the ideas behind minimalism are helpful for reexamining where your heart is when it comes to that stuff. Check out what Jesus says in Luke 12:15 (ESV): “And he said to them, ‘Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.’”
In other words, the contentment we’re seeking doesn’t come from a shopping bag or an online retailer. It isn’t hiding in a “more is better” mentality, either. You won’t find it in trying to keep up with your friends, relatives or neighbors. Contentment comes from Jesus. He’s the only one who can satisfy our souls.
So take some time to consider your relationship with the stuff you already own. And make sure you’re buying new things for the right reasons. (Hint: Ask yourself the questions at the beginning of this article.) Remember, your identity and fulfillment shouldn’t lie in material things. They should be in your relationships, experiences—and, ultimately, Christ. Those are the things truly worth chasing.
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This article originally appeared on Stewardship.com. Used with permission.
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/shironosov
Publication date: March 7, 2017