There are “Good Problems” and “Bad Problems” to have. For example, it’s a good problem if there are so many people in your church, that you’re struggling to find seats for them, or places to meet! There are also problems which may appear to be a sign of blessing, or “good”, but are really a test, temptation, or a snare. So, what about the problem of “clutter”? Is there a righteous, and also sinful response to the problem of accumulating too much, and have it affect my spiritual life?
It was not really until We’ve had the opportunity of becoming homeowners (3 years ago), that the problem of accumulation came to the forefront. As renters, and travelers, living in tighter spaces, this was never really an issue, as we rarely saw the need to prepare far down the road, with material things. Now that we “own” (though really entrusted to us by God), the thoughts of “preserving” & “insuring” what we have flood my mind. The more we have, the more time, planning and effort (and stress) is spent on KEEPING what we have, and our thoughts naturally turn more from people, to possessions.
To me, this passage of scripture has never hit closer to home, after putting up a shed in our yard this summer: Luke 12:15-23 Then he (Jesus) said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."
And he told them this parable: "The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ "Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I’ll say to myself, "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry."’ "But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ "This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God." Then Jesus said to his disciples: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.”
I know I’ve used this before, but as Jesus spent so many opportunities speaking on the potential dangers of material goods, I guess I will too… Do we deny that even Christians are being influence by our consumerist culture? If Jesus told us in Luke 3:11, that if we have 2 coats we should give to the person who has none, what do I do with my overstuffed dresser drawers? As the TV & Internet has influenced how much we think we need, how much do our kids (or we) actually play with the toys we’ve acquired?
A Christian writer named Susan Vogt came up with a terrific solution to our culture’s pressure to buy, buy, buy. In her book, “Blessed by Less,” Vogt writes that she decided to give away something every day during Lent. It felt so good she kept it up for a whole year. “I became addicted to identifying things I no longer needed”—but which others did, she writes. She now thinks twice about what she really needs to buy. “Living lightly,” she adds, “reminds me that my existence is about more than accumulating possessions and status … Letting go of stuff also changed my attitude toward my possessions and helped me clarify my true priorities.”
If we can’t fit our 2 cars into our garage, we have not used the space that it was designed for, and we have too much! If I can’t fit all my t-shirts into my drawer, I have too much! But more importantly, are we being wise stewards of the resources entrust to us, FOR His Kingdom? A few questions to consider:
What are we teaching our children through our unspoken priorities? Is the material accumulation taking away from the people in my life, and others I can potentially reach? Is it taking my time away from a devotion to God? What would it look like to accumulate eternal treasures instead of hoarding earthly ones? What would be your reaction, if Jesus asked you (as He did the rich young ruler) to give up everything you owned and give it away to the poor (let alone, just your cell phone)? Our reactions to breaking or losing something may say volumes about our spiritual condition!
Be LESS stressed, by discovering “it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35), and living for that which LASTS! Make an action plan regarding your abundant possessions, tell someone close to hold you accountable, stick to it, and let God adjust your attitude towards all things perishing.
Luke 12:31-34 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. "Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”