Many years ago I was inspired by a book called Living More With Less. It was written in 1980 by Doris Janzen Longacre before “living green” was in vogue. Her premise is that we live “more” when we live in ways that honor God’s creation, are mindful of the plight of the poor, and in keeping each other in mind. She asserts we can live more when we live with less. Her book describes practical ways to “live simply so others can simply live.” (You can get a copy here.)
I was thinking about this yesterday when reading about “income inequality” in the USA. I was reflecting on our observations in Bolivia where world poverty reports list 45% of people there living on $2 or less a day. In fact, much of the world lives on less than $1 per day. We read about it in the news – children going without food and medicine, no access to clean water, no hope for sustainable living – and yet such news is quickly shoved aside. After all, we live busy lives and what could we do about such things anyway?
We could live more simply so others could simply live.
We went on an experiment in living more simply, first by choice and later by conscription to a situation. What we found is that there is often more in less. For example, if you enjoy an income of $30,000 and you find a way to live well on $25,000 you have $5,000 more, not less than you had before. If you live on $50,000 and live on $40,000 you have $10,000 more. If you live on $100,000… well you get the picture. People think they can’t afford to tithe or give to others. They think they couldn’t possibly live on any less than what they have. But we can and maybe we should if we are really interested in Jesus’s commands to look after the needs of the poor. We all have more available to share when we live with less.
Living with less doesn’t mean living with nothing or even living less. It means living well with a clean conscience, celebrating what you have that you value most. There’s no inherent value in living a minimalist life-style as a goal in itself. But living with less can help you – and others – live more. Buying less things means having less things to store, less space to store it, less to insure, less to break, and less to worry about. Living with less not only provides more savings, but also more enjoyment of what you have, more awareness of the simple things, more of the beauty around us. Making more money doesn’t always allow us to live more. But living more with less might. Living more with less contributes less to filling the landfill and more to filling our lives with the best God really intended – for us and for others in need.
I know this sounds crazy and maybe impossible. We’re conditioned to follow the pattern of this world in always wanting more. Having more makes us happy – we think – until we tire of what we have and yearn to replace it with something better, something more. Too often more is less and less is more. By renewing our mind, there is a transformational power to live more, even with less…especially with less.
What would living more with less look like for you? Imagine how it would simplify your life and fill it with more satisfaction and meaning.
Here’s to living more – with less!