Simplicity, Accountability, Purity…

Posted by on Nov 26, 2023 in Blog | 3 comments

purple petaled flowers

I was chatting to a 40 something year old who was reflecting on his 15 years of marriage. ‘When we said “I do” we had agreed that it meant not only an unqualified “yes” to each other, but also a commitment to a future of simplicity, accountability and purity. We saw those as three key building blocks for the journey ahead. It’s working really well for us.’

I’ve thought about the conversation since. What are the key ingredients for a good marriage – or, for that matter, a good work relationship, a deep friendship or whatever? I’m sure many answers could be given, but for this post, let’s stick with the SAP trio – simplicity, accountability, purity.

In an overly complicated world, it’s refreshing to hear someone commit to simplicity. It can mean many things.

In the early days of my (on Wednesday) 43 year marriage, Rosemary and I had a conversation on the things we needed to purchase to have everything we could possible ever need. It boiled down to two items – a coffee percolator, and a colour TV (we had a tiny black and white one back then). Surprisingly, we never did get the percolator, but we have gone through a fair few colour TV’s. But there has never been a shortage of new gadgets to acquire or new experiences to purchase. For all that, the older I get the more committed I am to live simply and to notice how enriching the simple things in life are. The old song goes that the best things in life are free. Like walking, and talking and a dip in the ocean. There was a slogan back in the 80’s: “We must live more simply so that others can simply live.” It’s not just about redistributing wealth, or making sure that we have something to share with others, it is about learning to notice how much we have. Often less is more.

Increasingly I appreciate church when it is simply church – worship, and prayer, and teaching and relationship with one another. I’m not sure when or why church got so complex, but somehow Church Inc. is no-where near as satisfying as two or three gathered in the name of Jesus discovering that Jesus is already there.

Simplicity is found through other means as well. Like committing to tell the truth. So much easier to remember the truth than the elaborate justifications we sometimes build to avoid it.

Accountability reminds me that I am not an island. The John Donne poem exhorts us: “Therefore send not to know for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee.” What I do has flow on effects for others, and therefore the rampant individualism of our day misleads us. What I do is never only about me. If I become defensive if you ask me to justify my decisions I need to ask myself why. Why shouldn’t my life be an open book, where my yes is simply my yes, and my no, a no? And why wouldn’t I delight in being stretched by the questions of others who wonder why I act in a certain way?

“I only answer to myself,” is ultimately selfish and a denial of our communal existence. If we are to reap the rich rewards of journeying with another, we must be willing to be accountable – to answer for how we use our time, and talent and treasure. To think about the words we use and to apologise when they tear down and belittle rather build up and enlarge…

Purity is the reminder that it’s unwise to be a bit of this and a bit of that. While many will rush to thoughts of sexual purity (and it certainly does include this), its far more than that.

Jesus says that the pure in heart will see God (Matt 5:8). It’s because they aren’t pulled in different directions. Focus on God, and God comes into focus. Purity means shying away from the inappropriate, rather than secretly dancing on different stages. It’s about making your choices and sticking to them. It is the joy of innocence, the absence of cynicism, the love of truthful speech. It allows for tenderness and vulnerability, for it has no hidden agenda waiting to be unpacked.

Simplicity, accountability, purity… you’d think it’s not that hard, yet it is rarely found. It is birthed with simple steps. Like a walk in the open, conversations that matter, and an undivided heart. A new level of relationship with our spouse, friends and colleagues could be only a SAP away.

As always, nice chatting…

Photo by Joyce Toh on

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  1. You couldn’t have put it any better Brian, it resonates and speaks volumes perfectly. ????

    Paring things back to the Be Attitudes can only be good.

    Thank you yet again. Hope to see you (both!) before too long in the new year ????

    • Thanks Shelly. Good to hear from you and do hope we get to catch up in the new year.

  2. You couldn’t have put it any better Brian, it resonates and speaks volumes perfectly. ????

    Paring things back to the Be Attitudes can only be good.

    Thank you yet again. Hope to see you (both!) before too long in the new year ????

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