Simplicity and the Idea of Comfort

“The superior man thinks always of virtue; the common man thinks of comfort.”
–Confucius

It has long been noted that human beings are creatures of comfort. Soft pillows. Air-conditioning. Escalators. Overpriced lattes. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with being comfortable. Even Jesus apparently used a cushion (see Mark 4:38). Simplicity doesn’t equate to having a miserable life. I happen to have a simple car that is invaluable for getting me from place to place. I have a home with heating and air-conditioning that shelters me from extreme weather patterns. I have a smartphone to keep in touch with family and friends. I believe it’s fine to have some degree of comfort. Again, we’re not aiming for a life of misery. But moving towards simplicity will most likely mean some sort of reduction in creature comforts and most likely embracing times of discomfort (especially as we participate in loving people sacrificially and advancing God’s kingdom wholeheartedly). And this might be tough for people who’ve lived in relative comfort for most of their lives.

We’re going to have to constantly evaluate ourselves to see if we’re going overboard with comfort. We can easily spend our days chasing after different things that will make us more and more comfortable. Cars are a great example. Do I really need plush leather seats? Sunroofs? All that high-tech equipment? Maybe you do because it serves some important purpose. I’m not here to judge. But at the very least, I’d like to encourage us to re-evaluate our lifestyle choices. There can be a danger when we chase after too much comfort. We can spend our time, energy, and money towards making our lives more and more comfortable. But at the same time, we easily miss out on the really important things in God’s eyes—the kind of stuff that will last for eternity.

Having some degree of comfort is fine but simplicity entails drawing the line at a certain point. But where do we draw that line? I don’t know yet. In another post, we’ll explore what that line looks like. But at the end of the day, I can only give a few pointers that may or may not work for you. Ultimately, each of us will have to do a thorough evaluation of ourselves and our lifestyles and attempt to square them with God’s desires and expectations. Why don’t we experiment on what that line might look like by slowly moving towards declining or reducing some comforts in life? You don’t have to go all-in right away. Instead, take some small steps towards simplicity and see how far the rabbit-hole goes.