It’s a gift to be simple…


sim·plic·i·ty   [sim-plis-i-tee]
noun, plural sim·plic·i·ties.
1. the state, quality, or an instance of being simple.
2. freedom from complexity, intricacy, or division into parts: an organism of great simplicity.
3. absence of luxury, pretentiousness, ornament, etc.; plainness: a life of simplicity.
4. freedom from deceit or guile; sincerity; artlessness; naturalness: a simplicity of manner.
5. lack of mental acuteness or shrewdness: Politics is not a field for simplicity about human nature.

I’ve been pondering on this issue about simplicity for quite a while now, before LifeGroup yesterday, before Sunday sermon a few weeks back. Maybe cos I was a bit bothered. About how I’m not as simple as I used to be.

I do things after thinking twice, thrice and considering other options and possibilities. Often out of a self-preserving motive. I no longer literally follow verses like ‘…don’t let your right hand know what your left hand is doing.’ I mean, if I blindly reach for the first note from my wallet during Offering Time and it turns out to be $50, I discreetly put it back and swop it for a $10 or $5… That kind of thing.

I weigh my options carefully before making a commitment to help someone; do I have the time? Will the person feel offended if I offer too little (or too much)? Am I just trying to look good in the eyes of others, or doing it cos I will feel guilty if I don’t, or cos I’m trying to prove a point? If my motives are not pure, isn’t it better not to do that ‘good deed’? Rubbish, you’re just using this ‘pure-motives’ logic as a convenient excuse for inaction. And 101 other considerations…

Recently too, I’ve neglected applying simple guidelines like ‘giving till it hurts’ or ‘laying my life down for a friend’. When money, time or resources was never really an issue (as long as you are happy) in the past, now I get worried about paying for an expensive dinner and not having enough money in my CPF when I retire and things like who will employ me 10 years from now? What if I get abandoned by my family in old age, who is going to help me if I don’t help myself now? Cold cynicism has started to replace my faith in the faithfulness of others. And that’s scary. And dangerous. Cos I know that indirectly, I’m not trusting in God. No wonder it’s said ‘the righteous will live by faith’. Faith in the faithfulness of God. But my faith wavers. Yet, what Pst Joe said a few weeks back was very reassuring: Don’t put your faith in faith. Put your faith in the grace and compassion of God.

B thinks simplicity is relative; what is simple to someone is complex to another; I guess his point being that it’s okay to be complicated by someone else’s standards and not bother about being judged as long as you find that ‘complexity’ simple and you’re happy with it. Yeah, he has a point there. Well, I’m not too happy about my complexity cos it’s now beyond simple to me. I’m starting to feel trapped by always needing to work out what’s fair or not, what’s right or not, what’s this and that etcetc. I was never very good at multi-tasking. I usually focus best on the present, one thing at a time, one person at a time, one God at a time.

Yes, that’s the problem. I’ve been having more than one god in my life. The other gods are probably my own will, my fears and the voices of a hundred other distractions whispering at my ear to go this way and that. I need to go back to being still with Him alone. To hear from Him and regain that inner peace and freedom.

Like this song that I learnt while in JC:

Simple Gifts

‘Tis the gift to be simple,
’tis the gift to be free,
’tis the gift to come down where you ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
It will be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed.
To turn, turn will be our delight,
‘Til by turning, turning we come round right

‘Tis the gift to be loved and that love to return,
‘Tis the gift to be taught and a richer gift to learn,
And when we expect of others what we try to live each day,
Then we’ll all live together and we’ll all learn to say,

‘Tis the gift to have friends and a true friend to be,
‘Tis the gift to think of others not to only think of “me”,
And when we hear what others really think and really feel,
Then we’ll all live together with a love that is real. 

Simple Gifts was written by Shaker Elder Joseph Brackett, Jr. in 1848. It was first published in The Gift to be Simple: Shaker Rituals and Songs.  Simple Gifts was a work song sung by the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing (more commonly called the Shakers, an offshoot of the Quakers).

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