Home   e-Library       中文 
e-Library Home |  Browse By Category |  Study the Bible    
 (Manna 60: Money)
A Life of Simplicity
TOC | Previous | Next

A Life of Simplicity

Based on a sermon by Derren Liang—San Jose, California, USA

The dream of owning a house, a car, and living in luxury puts many of us on a time-consuming chase after material things. But somewhere in the process of these pursuits, sooner or later, we will come to a rude awakening that this dream is more like a nightmare, taking with it our peace.

As much as we live in the luxury of technological advances that are supposed to help streamline our lives, we still do not have enough time to do everything that needs to be done. If fact, we are doing more. High-speed Internet, teleconferencing, and smart phones notwithstanding, we still work long hours and have little leisure time.

Despite the standard of a forty-hour workweek, many people routinely spend fifty or sixty hours at the office. Add to this a family and spiritual life, and it is no wonder that people feel overwhelmed.

The question is whether there is anything we can do to make our complex lives simpler. While we still have to work to make a living for ourselves, there must be a way for us to get off the worldly track and get back on the spiritual track.

To regain our peace and reestablish a joyful life, we need to go back to the Bible and learn from God’s servants—the people He chose to carry out His work and were trained to lead complex yet simple lives that were wholly devoted and dedicated to Him.


Take our first example, Moses. His was a complicated life. Growing up as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, he lived in the palace and enjoyed all the available luxuries and pleasures. For forty years, he was treated to all the best in food, clothes, entertainment, and education. His status and wealth filled his life with possessions and complexities.

But Moses did not value his life of luxury and was instead set on rescuing his Hebrew peers from slavery in Egypt. Hebrews 11:24, 25 tells us:

            By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt.

God was willing to use Moses, but his training and service did not happen when he was a prince living in the palace. In order for Moses to be able to serve wholeheartedly, God trained him for forty years as a shepherd in the wilderness. During this time, he had nothing—no status, no possessions, and no money. Everything he had in Egypt was stripped away so that his heart could be unobstructed in reconnecting with God.

When Moses became the leader of the Israelites, he began a new chapter that was filled with another forty years of complications. He was entrusted with leading the Israelites and was in charge of every aspect of their lives. This is a responsibility hard for us to imagine.

Even with all these complications, Moses managed to live a simple life and keep his focus on God. He knew how important it was to keep drawing strength, direction, and fulfillment from God and often entered the tabernacle to talk to God face to face (Ex 33:8-11).

With a heart trained by God to focus on the right things, Moses was able to lead the Israelites without becoming overwhelmed. For us to survive in this complicated world, we need to have the same focus. We need to learn how to lead a simple life despite the complexities.

By pursuing the kingdom and righteousness of God, we renew our lives and change its direction. Then we will no longer be self-centered and lost in our worldly responsibilities; instead, we will have a simple heart that does not lose strength.


As a prophet in the idolatrous Northern Kingdom, Elijah’s task to renew the faith of the Israelites was daunting. To prepare him for the difficulties he would face, God caused him to live by the Brook Cherith.

There Elijah had to focus on God because there was no way for him to find food. He had to place his hope in God’s promise: “And it will be that you shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there” (1 Kgs 17:4).

The ravens brought Elijah food twice a day by God’s command. In this exercise of faith, Elijah needed to have complete faith and reliance in God, believing that, since God put him there, He would take care of him. It was essential that his trust in God remained strong so he would be able to face the king and bring the Israelites back to God.

When the water in the brook dried up, God told Elijah to go to Zarephath, where a widow would provide for him. The test of his faith, whether he could rely on God to live a simple life, wasn’t finished yet.

Elijah had nothing—no money or food—only the clothes on his back. He had to do whatever God told him to do just to survive. He had to trust that God would provide, even though the widow had only enough oil and flour for one small cake.

With no room for doubt or despair, Elijah demonstrated great faith, asking the widow to make a cake for him first. With this absolute faith and reliance on God, the flour and oil never ran out.

When life is stripped down to its bare essentials, when we have nothing and must trust in God to provide for all our needs, we can see whether we have the focus and hope it takes to have complete faith in God. Elijah was able to focus on God during this time with simple faith, and it gave him the strength and training he would need to carry on in his difficult work.

But we don’t often rely on God the same way. We worry too much over the difficulties we encounter, the endless issues that crop up in our complicated lives. Will I be the next person to get laid off? Can I afford a new computer? When will I find a job? Where should my child go to school?

Immersed in making decisions, we forget to put our focus on God instead of these issues. As Jesus told His disciples, we should place Him first in our lives:

            “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on. Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing…And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Lk 12:22, 23, 29-31)

If we have faith in God, we will give Him all our burdens, trusting in His power to provide a way for us in all things.


Before David became king, he was on the run from Saul, who was intent on killing him. Yet, even in this difficult time, in the valley of the shadow of death, his heart sought after God.

            One thing I have desired of the LORD,
That will I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the LORD
All the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the LORD,
And to inquire in His temple. (Ps 27:4)

This is the true test of our faith: that in the midst of our busy and stress-filled lives, we are still able to truly place God first and seek Him. Because David kept his priorities straight during a life-threatening situation, he did not come to any harm.

David’s desire to seek after God did not change after he became king. Though different from his days of running from Saul, his life remained complicated and stressful. Nevertheless, he kept the desire most important to him, which was to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of his life.

God’s house today is the church. God dwells there, and we go there to worship Him and behold His beauty. We need to recognize just how important it is to worship Him in His house. If we hold onto the Sabbath and leave behind all our worldly cares and affairs, we can establish a good relationship with God.

Constant renewal of our relationship with God every week will give us a faith that cannot be affected by worldly concerns. Those who do not have time to draw close to God on the Sabbath are those who lose their faith. They value the things of the world so much that they become numb to spiritual things.

Therefore, it is essential to focus on God that one day of the week so that we can pray and be filled with His Spirit, meditate on Him, and receive peace and power in our hearts. As Hebrews 4:11 says, “Let us be diligent to enter that rest,” the rest of observing the Sabbath.

Then, like David, we will not lose our faith because of our busy lives and our struggles, but we will draw closer to God and find strength in Him. If we want simplicity in our lives, we must observe the Sabbath. One of the greatest enjoyments is having a peaceful and quiet life, and the Sabbath is the one day of the week we can find true peace and rest.


We struggle to balance all the responsibilities in our lives, but we are trying to solve our difficulties the wrong way. Instead of viewing our life in simple terms of reprioritizing, we need to change our focus and clear away distractions to our goal—to live a simple life that is focused on God.

Living a simple life doesn’t mean that we have no possessions and don’t work. We can see that the servants of God still had many responsibilities to carry out. Simplicity means not allowing our possessions or responsibilities to control us; rather, we are in control of every aspect of our lives. And in order for us to be in charge of our lives, we must have a good relationship with God.

Learning how to focus on God and making time to worship Him gives us an inner peace that will not leave us even during the most difficult times.

We do not want to be trapped by worldliness and materialism, vying for a lofty position in society and chasing after money. If we are clear on our goal, we are able to evaluate our lives and make adjustments as we learn how to lead a simple life that is pleasing to God.

PDF Download

Author: Derren Liang