’Tis a gift to be simple

’Tis a gift to be simple

The LORD is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. The LORD protects the simple-hearted; when I was in great need, he saved me. (Psalm 116:5, 6)

Simplicity is a sought after ideal in today’s day and age. Overwhelmed with information and input the idea of paring back to the essentials is a very attractive one. People pursue ‘decluttering’ as part of this goal, embrace minimalism, and in other ways try to bring a sense of simplicity to an overcomplicated life.

But what about being simple? That’s not always an attractive proposition. If someone calls you ‘simple’ you are more likely to consider it an insult rather than a compliment. The implication is that you are not sophisticated or intellectually able; that you are somehow ‘less’ than your peers. Simplicity might be a noble pursuit, but being simple somehow is not.

Yet the Bible calls us to be simple. It calls us to do this in lots of ways, and one is found in the midst of Psalm 116. There the psalmist declares that ‘the Lord protects the simple-hearted’. You can equally translate this as ‘the Lord protects the simple’.

Much like our society and culture, the Bible often uses that word ‘simple’ in a negative way: lacking wisdom, needing instruction and maturity. But here in Psalm 116 it is used in a positive sense. Being simple is something to be admired and achieved. It is good, in this sense, to be simple.

To be simple is to be pure and focused; it is to be uncluttered with other things and to be single-minded in your pursuit. In the psalm the idea of being simple-hearted is to have a heart for one thing only: the Lord God. “I love the Lord…” begins the psalm, and being simple-hearted means continuing to love the Lord above all else, not allowing that love to be filled up with other things instead.

It is good to be simple in our love for God. Yet our love often gets cluttered with other things and other desires. Perhaps we need to embrace the concept of ‘decluttering’ with our heart and mind as well as our houses? Could we take stock of those things that capture our heart instead of God and ask him to remove them and demote them? Will we be willing to embrace being simple, and make that our prayer?