After you read this, I have some questions, and I would love to hear your answers.

Mother Teresa said, “Live simply so others may simply live.”

Eleanor Roosevelt said, “A little simplification would be the first step toward rational living, I think.”

Leonardo da Vinci said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

Henry Thoreau said, “Our life is frittered away by detail…Simplify, simplify.”

The prophet Zechariah may have said it the most succinctly, “Keep your lives simple and honest.”

Our western culture is everything but simple and honest.

We love to be connected and busy 24 hours a day.

We are complicated people and we love our stuff.

And it seems we can never have enough stuff.

There are 2.2 billion children in the world and 1 billion of them live in poverty.

640 million children live without adequate shelter (1 in 3).
400 million live with no access to safe water (1 in 5).
270 million live with no access to health services (1 in 7)

1.4 million die each year from lack of access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation.
2.2 million children die each year because they are not immunized.

In 2005, the wealthiest 20% of the world accounted for 77% of total private consumption.
A mere 12% of the world’s population uses 85% of its water.

YET: Consider what our global priorities in spending are.

The U.S. spends $8 BILLION a year on cosmetics.
Europeans spend $11 BILLION a year on ice cream.
The U.S. and Europe spends $12 BILLION a year on perfume.
The U.S. and Europe spends $17 BILLION on pet food.
The Japanese spend $35 BILLION on business entertainment.
Europeans spend $50 BILLION on cigarettes and $105 BILLION on alcohol.
The world spends $400 BILLION on narcotic drugs and $780 BILLION on military spending.

Compare that to what is estimated as additional costs to achieve universal access to basic social services in all developing countries:

Basic education for all would cost an additional $6 BILLION.
For water and sanitation for all, an additional $9 BILLION.
Reproductive health care for all women would cost an additional $12 BILLION and for basic health and nutrition, an additional $13 BILLION.

Mother Teresa said, “It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.”

Solomon wrote “God made us plain and simple, but we have made ourselves very complicated.” Ecclesiastes 7:29

And Solomon had a lot of stuff.

Nobel Prize-winner and world renowned scholar Albert Schweitzer spent much of his career traveling on trains. Someone once asked him why he always traveled third class, and his answer was plain and simple: “There is no fourth class.”

Philip Yancey reflected on a trip he made to a monastery. After the monk showed him his small room, he said, “If you need anything, let us know and we will teach you how to get along without it.”

The question Americans, especially American Christians, need to be asking is “How much is enough?”

A simplified life helps us obey God and love people in greater ways.

And even though Proverbs 19:17 says, “If you help the poor, you are lending to the LORD—and he will repay you!”

And even though Proverbs 21:13 says, “Those who shut their ears to the cries of the poor will be ignored in their own time of need.”

And even though Proverbs 28:27 says, “Whoever gives to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to poverty will be cursed.”

And even though the prophets over and over say, “Be generous to the poor and you will be blessed. Be stingy with your money, and you will lose it. Take what God has given and take care of the orphan, the widow, the poor and you will receive blessings you cannot believe.”

And even though most American Christians know these scriptures and truths, only 9% of them give the biblical tithe.

American Christians give on average, 2% of their income towards the poor.

If the 138 million American Christians who attend church at least twice per month were to tithe, it would result in two hundred and fifty billion dollars per year that could be used to eradicate extreme poverty.

Smith and Emerson write, “Ordinary American Christians have within their power the capacity to foster massive and unprecedented spiritual, social, cultural, and economic change. In order to achieve such dramatic, world-transforming change, ordinary American Christians simply need to do one thing: start giving reasonably generously from their incomes, let us say 10% of their income.”

Many Christian Americans understand this in their minds, but they do not live it out in their lives.

Let’s ask some personal questions together:

Do I have some possessions that complicate my life but don’t really bring me any enjoyment?

What are some things that do bring me enjoyment but may not be worth the cost in time, money, and concern?

Do I buy things I don’t need, won’t use, or can’t afford?

What do I really need, and what do I merely want?

Do the statistics about how children live around the world break my heart enough to change my lifestyle?

Recently many people at my church fasted for a week on rice and beans, just to more closely identify to people who do not have the food options most Americans have.

At every meal we prayed for those around the world and in our own country who were hungry.

Rice and beans are a delicacy in poor countries, so we were not really sacrificing too much.

But by not eating anything else for a week, it taught us how to simplify. It taught us to be thankful.

After the fast was over, we realized how much food we waste, and how we could eat more simply..

Since that week of fasting, our grocery bills have been less, because we learned you can still eat well, with a smaller budget.

I have a friend who is not rich, lives a modest life, has avoided debt and believes the promise from Jesus that “you are more blessed when you are giving rather than receiving”.
He sponsors 20 children through Compassion International’s sponsorship program.

They say that conservatively speaking, if you sponsor 1 child, you end up impacting at least 5 lives.

My friend, sponsoring 20 children, at $38 a month, that’s $760 total a month, is impacting at least 100 lives.

These lives are being introduced to education, health care, nutrition, faith and a Compassion project that will invest in their entire families.
Many are being saved from malaria, HIV and other preventable diseases.
Many have full stomachs.
Many are experiencing a community of Grace.
Many are being educated, breaking the cycle of poverty that has affected their families for generations.
Many are finding the hope and the knowledge that Jesus loves them.

My friend drives a used car, does not have credit card debt and has a reasonable mortgage payment.

He does not live on water and crackers, he does take vacations, and in his words, has not had to sacrifice to do this.

To him it is just obedience, and with obedience comes blessings.

He tells me he has more money than before he started sponsoring children.

This is a spiritual principle that cannot be explained, only lived and experienced.

I know another woman, who during our churches fast of rice and beans, realized how much she was spending on diet Coke. She decided at the end of the week to stop drinking diet Coke (her husband called it rat poison) and she has used the savings to sponsor another child through Compassion.

John Wesley was a student at Oxford University. As a student he had a fixed level of income and a fixed level of expenses.

His income that exceeded his expenses was given away to the poor.

After graduating from Oxford, he became an extremely popular preacher/writer and went on to make a sizable amount of money through the sales of his books.

His income gradually rose and rose, but he kept the level of his expenses the same as when he had been a student and continued to give away the excess income to the poor.

Very different from our American philosophy:

The more I make, the more I what? Spend!

Wesley didn’t see money as an evil.

Money was a good thing to Wesley because it was a vehicle through which God’s love could be expressed to the poor.

Simplify your life, because you are more powerful than you think to change our world!

SO HERE ARE SOME QUESTIONS WHERE I WOULD LOVE TO HEAR YOUR ANSWERS. Please reply so we can all learn and be inspired.

1. What ways have you simplified your life to help the poor?
2. How has simplifying your life affected your family and relationships?
3. How has God paid you back when you have lent to the poor?
4. Share some future goals when it comes to simplifying your life.
5. Share a favorite quote or scripture about giving to the poor.


  1. “He tells me he has more money than before he started sponsoring children. This is a spiritual principle that cannot be explained, only lived and experienced.” YES!! We are living & experiencing this as well. My husband retired a couple of years ago and we thought we’d have to reduce our giving due to reduced income, but decided to give the same amount for a couple of months, and we seemed to have the same amount of money left! It’s crazy, we’ve actually increased our giving, and now sponsor 7 Compassion children (but you know, there’s still space on the refrigerator for more pictures…) We live simply, paid extra on our mortgage for years so we could pay it off early (at retirement), have no credit card debt, don’t care about buying “stuff.” When you tell God you want to be able to give to help others, HE changes your desires, and makes a way for it to happen, and brings you great joy. We too, eat normally, go on vacations, and make NO sacrifice to give. Malachi 3:10 says: “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.” We have tested him, and this promise is true. It makes no sense how this works from a human perspective, but “His ways are not our ways” so we just thank Him and try to keep up in blessing others as He is blessing us.

    • Thank you for sharing. We all need to hear about God’s faithfulness in someone elses journey. But there comes a time when we have to trust God with our own lives. I pray more followers of Jesus will follow your example. Thank you for your passion and willingness to talk about this issue that has been widely ignored in the church world.

  2. these are some tough questions. i sponser a child, help family members with money when they need it. i’m very compulsive with my money and will spend it or give it away when i shouldn’t. God is always blessing me so it’s hard to figure if it;s because i’ve given to my sponser child or what ever. i would like to simplfy my life and make it as honest as possible. working through the 12 steps in celebrate is helping me with that and with your encouragement i will try harder. thank you for this thought provoking message.

    • I love the last step in celebrate where we now pass on what we have learned and experienced to others. Part of doing that is by simplifying our lives so we have time to do that. Thank you for sharing.

  3. We could write a book on the number of blessings God has given us. We have had the phone ring for more work 15 minutes after we prayed, cars that just kept on going even after they should have died, lived on a $500 dollar food budget per month……with a family of 10……..no, not a misprint…$500.00 for 10 people. When God says “Test me in this” (refering to the tithe) He is putting out a challenge for those who are willing to accept His grace and mercy……..and we would challenge whoever may be questioning this act of titheing to “Test God in this”. Hey, it’s Gods words, not mine!!!

    • Well said! Very inspiring. I love “It’s God’s words, not mine!” I tell people all the time that God makes me much smarter than I actually am. You should do a show on how to feed 10 people on $500 a month. It would be a very relevant show.

  4. Simplify, a phrase I wish I could better articulate and apply to my life. After traveling to Africa people often I ask why I like going there so much (not exactly a vacation hot spot :). It is hard to explain, but in the land of such extreme poverty, disease, climate, religious bondage, life is simple. Instead of feeling anxious I feel at peace, I feel useful rather than useless, instead of rushed I know I am living exactly in God’s timing. For my family, getting outside of the American Bubble has changed our priorities. I like nice things, I like to travel, I like to relax, all good things, however, replacing entitlement (the american way) with selflessness (the way God intended us to live) will change our world, a much better thing 🙂

  5. Those are thought provoking statistics, makes you so humble to think of how much we have and how much we waste. I do sponser a Child in Africia(David) and hope he is blessed. I know I am. especially when we get his letters. Jack is retired and I will retire in February (God Willing) then we will be on a fixed income. We are learning to live on what we have, and help when we can. We do tithe, we know this Church does so much for so many. We are proud to be a part of it. This is what a Church should do help the people who can not help themselves, that have no voice and no hope, not only financially but in action and emotionally. we pray every day for the church and the world to come to the Lord. We love you all so much. It was no accident we found this Church, God blesses us everyday. we don’t have a lot, but we have what we need.

  6. Every time we have needed Him, He has shown up for us. As a family, we have been through some unbelievable circumstances where we saw “no way out”. Through the 11 years we have been a part of GVCC, we are so proud to be part of a church who reaches out to hurting people.

    The times we have served, in whatever capacity (and there’s been several different ones), we experience joy in that service.
    We are trying to raise our son, to reach out, and do what you CAN do (he hasn’t seen 58 yet, but we want him to)

    We have tithed faithfully, even when we felt fear about financial circumstances. I refuse to give in to that fear, because He has proven himself faithful to us, over and over.

    We are in awe of familes, like Troy & Kim Dickson, and the Wetmores, (and all the others), who have taken that, seemingly, insurmountable, NOT doable, “no way”, path to get in the trenchs and SERVE the poor, and the persecuted, in a “hands on” way. While we don’t see that we can actually do THAT (right now), we can do SOMETHING, and so, we do.

    It makes us feel like we are helping………compassion kids (when you really SEE the difference that SMALL amount of money makes in their lives, it’s like “I can do without this Starbucks every day), finances towards mission trips, our consistent tithe to the church. That’s just the “dollar sign” part of it.

    When we serve at the Senior Centers, when we rake leaves in a mobile home park, when we help an elderly person navigate the supermarket, even, for me, at work……..the love of Jesus Christ can shine through me, in the way that I treat my patients, and co-workers. Heck, as Joyce Meyers says, I “put away my shopping cart EVERY single time”.

    For the future? Just keep stepping out in faith……believing in His Plan, no matter how little of it we seem to be able to see. Live a life in FULL VIEW, because He sees, even when others do not. Not like “geez, I HAVE to do this, or I’ll get in trouble”, but more like “Lord. I want to honor you”.

    Matthew 25 34-36 “And here’s why: I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, I was homeless and you gave me a room, 36 I was shivering and you gave me clothes, I was sick and you stopped to visit, I was in prison and you came to me.” Matthew 25 40 “Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me – you did it to me.’

    • Thank you for sharing. True success does not look like what our culture tells us success looks like. The Layton’s are to me, what God’s success looks like. Serving their community, enduring during tough times without losing their sense of humor, and raising a family that understands that it is more blessed to give than receive. And Scott has some pretty cool hair too!

  7. I love these kinds of messages because it raises awareness and convicts people of the parts of the bible that are very important but sometimes ignored.
    God has used my parents to teach me about the balance of generosity and seeing how God really cares about our needs and wants. There’s a scripture that says “you do not have because you do not ask, and you ask and do not receive because you ask with wrong motives.” (paraphrased) I keep that close to my heart. Since I was a little girl my mom taught me to give generously and ask God for my desires and know that if I am asking humbly and according to His Will, he cares and will answer. Sometimes the answer is not now, but he answers.
    I have 5 children, and some of the ways we have tried to keep things simple is by asking God for wisdom on HOW we do things. Movies? Tuesday is cheap day, ice cream? Tuesday again. Clothes? clearance racks and thrift stores and consignment. I cut their hair and mine. The girls and I do each other’s nails. We have very low budget for food and shop at grocery outlet and sales at regular stores. We both bought older cars that my husband can work on so we don’t pay the high cost of shop labor. i buy all our furniture from craigslist and garage sales. I have taught these things to my children since the older ones were young, out of necessity because I was a single mom for 7 years. I continue to teach them with their allowance and my son with his business about tithes, savings and spending. They all practice it. My teenage daughter even made a cool box and decorated it with slots for those 3 things and has paid for 2 mission trips this year. God is amazing and gets us through the toughest of times (my husband is a contractor, enough said)
    Lately, even though we make less now than we ever have, God has put in on my heart to not only give my 10% where needed but more, and with a little fear but lots of faith I have said okay and He is faithful. We have all we need. There’s a sense of true love and family when people help each other and share what they have, even if it’s a cup of coffee. And my 5 year old prays at every dinner for Ines, our compassion child, that she has a nice dinner. He’s been doing that for a year. It warms my heart.

    • How cool is it that a 5 year old is praying for a young girl from another country to have a nice dinner. Our children already have a better picture of God’s love for the world! Thanks for sharing.

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