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Laying Aside Every Weight

January 18, 2011

Therefore then, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely,  and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. Hebrews 12:1 ESV (emphasis added)

As we consider briefly the Discipline of Simplicity, I love using Hebrews 12:1 as a framework.   We are called to lay aside every weight, the unnecessary, that keeps us from pursuing life in Christ unencumbered. And, as with so much of our spiritual life … this will look different for each of us.

The legalist in us wants to make this a list of what we must give up.   No cable tv – check.  No eating out – check.  No big house – check.  No new clothes – check.  But simplicity is less about giving up materially and more about growing up spiritually.

The competitor in us would like to measure against someone else.  I have less “stuff” than she does.   We have family game night instead of going to the movies like “them.”  But simplicity is not a competition with others rather it is a cooperation with God.

The attention-seeker in us is desperate for others to notice how “simple” our lives have become and how little we need to make us happy.  But simplicity that is applauded by others is likely not celebrated by the Audience of One.

For some the call of Simplicity will involve decreasing material possessions.  In fact, the abundance of this American Dream in which most of us live may well be the very thing that keeps us from experiencing the abundance of God.   (For more on this idea I highly recommend reading Radical by David Platt.)

Richard Foster says this of simplicity in his book Celebration of Discipline:

Simplicity is the only thing that sufficiently reorients our lives so that possessions can be genuinely enjoyed without destroying us (84).

My “one word” for this year is simple … I have felt a deep longing for simplicity in my heart and life.   Learning to understand what the Lord wants edited out of my life and being content in what remains … materially and otherwise.  I’ve committed myself to laying aside every weight … allowing the Great Physician to remove the unnecessary from my heart, my mind, my possessions.  And so, I write this post not as one who has by any means mastered this Discipline but from a longing to grow in it and experience the deep contentment that comes through it.

Is the Discipline of Simplicity challenging to you?   This week, commit to memory Hebrews 12:1 and ask the Lord what is weighing you down … then agree with Him about the need to eliminate those weights.

{Tomorrow I’m beginning a study of what Foster terms the “ten controlling principles for the outward expression of simplicity” on my blog.   If you want to dig deeper into this Discipline, please feel free to join me for the next ten Wednesdays as we explore one each week.}

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. January 18, 2011 7:53 am

    Thank you Teri Lynne for such a clear explanation of “simplicity” and for a practical way to get us started on that path.

  2. January 18, 2011 10:49 am

    I do struggle with this, too, Teri Lynne. I think we even get a lot of pressure from within our christian culture to “add more” of good things, instead of being free to focus. I’m with you in concentrating on simplicity this year, but already I see the Enemy throwing darts at me … nothing worthwhile comes easy, and I know this is a focus I need to strive for.

  3. January 18, 2011 11:09 am

    Teri Lynne, I’m joining you in the “longing to grow in it and experience the deep contentment that comes through it.” Simplicity is so difficult for me and the quotes from Richard Foster and David Platt were spot on.

    I have so much reading I want to do from recommendations on this blog. 🙂 You ladies always challenge me with your encouraging posts. The spritual disciplines are a focus I’ve needed for a while.

    ~Blessings~
    Marita

  4. January 18, 2011 11:53 am

    I am not quite getting this. Is simplicity about taking everything away that is bad in our life? (That’s what I get from the Hebrews verse)

    • January 18, 2011 1:46 pm

      Michelle, I believe the writer of Hebrews is speaking to those things that weigh us down … which are not always bad things. Julie’s comment hits this perfectly … even those “good” things can become what distracts us from the Lord. Does that help at all?

  5. stephanieshott permalink
    January 18, 2011 8:31 pm

    Teri Lynne ~ I love this post! I’ve been learning that I have more to lay aside than I thought. Better to lay them aside than to have to have them stripped from us! 🙂

  6. January 19, 2011 1:00 am

    Wow. Amazing post, Teri Lynne. Thank you!

    The “legalist” in me definitely snapped to attention on this post. I love how you said this: “But simplicity is less about giving up materially and more about growing up spiritually.”

    As we grow up spiritually and are more “free to focus” (as Julie said in her comment), I think the simplicity continues to expand as well.

    So thankful for His peace and contentment.

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