Simplify. This word is of utmost importance in our culture right now. You can easily find the word printed on home décor items and t-shirts and Instagram posts every day. Best-selling how-to books and reality self-help TV shows focus on helping people simplify their lives in order to find more joy and let go of baggage. There is truth in this concept. There is something of value in the process of making your life simple, cutting out the excess, getting rid of the unnecessary, and focusing only on what matters most.
But if you’re like me and you’ve cleaned out a closet and basked in the glory of how beautifully organized it is, how your clothes are dwindled down to items you only really love to wear, you may also know the feeling that comes a week later when you think, I know the perfect belt to go with…oh, no! Or when you clean out your kitchen cabinets and get rid of years’ worth of unused items only to soon find a recipe that would be so easy to make if only you still had that medallion slicer you never used and then got rid of. That doesn’t make the simplification worthless, but the happiness you gain from the process doesn’t last forever, either.
Getting rid of those things still felt wonderful and your cleaner and tidier closet and home are still of great value. That process is still freeing and exciting and rewarding. But joy? True joy – the kind of joy that sits deep within you through trials and difficulties, the kind of joy that sustains you through tough seasons of life? The simplest of life won’t create that. So go ahead, clean out that closet, make that capsule wardrobe of only 30 pieces and feel fantastic in it. But don’t rely on simplification to fulfill the needs of your heart. Proverbs 10:28 says “The hope of the righteous brings joy, but the expectation of the wicked will perish.” The hope of the righteous is not on earthly matters. The hope of the righteous is a hope for a future that is perfect and without blemish, our salvation completed, unified in perfection with God in Christ. But the expectation of the wicked is that this life here and now will satisfy the longing of our hearts, that the things of this earth are the things of life. One of these brings us joy, the other will perish.
Simplify. Cleaning up the excess of life that gathers in our homes, our schedules, and our minds is a worthwhile task that we should work at as good stewards of the life God has blessed us with. But as we fill those bags and say goodbye to every last extra piece, remember that you’re not working for joy. You’re living a joyful life because of the hope Christ has given you. You already have joy, so simplifying is just that, simplifying.