Storing away the Christmas decorations so eagerly placed around the house such a short time ago makes me sigh for two reasons. One, the season comes and goes so fast each year that I wonder if I did all I could to enjoy it. And two, repacking the decor with a caring, organized attitude is almost always a challenge.
After placing the items back in their designated corner of storage, I stand back and take a visual inventory of the stuff in my life. This leads to another sigh. How can one family’s life lead to so much accumulation? After some serious reflection, a firm mindset for change overcomes me.
I start digging through storage containers, and making piles for donation, sale, and trash. Toys, exercise equipment, furniture, dishes, clothes, craft supplies, sport trophies, house decor, technology – YUCK! I pause, considering the mess in front of me. Maybe, too much material desire is churning in my life? Do you see it in your life too?
How smoothly we slip into thinking that some “thing” will help us live better, look better, feel better. But, our satisfaction with these material things never lasts. There is always something different, something better, and it’s surely “coming soon”! Without deliberate care, we easily fall into the traps of materialism, experiencing emotions like greed, anxiety, and envy.
Wouldn’t it be great to cram all that materialism in a box, tape it shut, and kick it to the curb? I think so. Looking for answers this week in Scripture, I have learned a few things. Here are the highlights:
- “For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.” 1 Timothy 6:7 New International Version (NIV)
This Scripture reminds us that we come into this life empty-handed and we leave the same way. Any satisfaction gained from earthly possessions is temporary. Teachings in the Bible point to faith, however, as being something eternal. A strong relationship with God is something we can build to last. Although, we cannot see it or touch it, we can do the work to know it exists, just as we are certain hope and love exist.
- “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:7 (NIV)
All the busyness created by our quest for things may cause us to overlook the heart’s desire to serve others. Sometimes we quickly write a check or toss a service project in here and there, and call that doing our part. Being a cheerful giver, however, requires more thought and emotion. If we are always dutifully consuming, when do we have time to donate belongings, think about what service activities we enjoy, or how much money we feel good about giving? How much greater might our gifts be if we blessed others wholeheartedly, instead of simply as an afterthought?
- “Then he said to them, ‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.'” Luke 12:15 (NIV)
Jesus tells us in this Scripture that a good, successful life is not a result of how much we own. Every day society pressures us to believe differently. The advertising which floods our psyche promises greater happiness with each new purchase.
Not buying into these promises requires us to think about earthly possessions from a Godly point of view. Certainly, God cares about comfort and wants us to prosper. But, he also requests us to make wise, gracious decisions with our resources. Guarding against greed requires us to keep resetting our minds on his ways, not the world’s ways.
When we set our minds on God’s ways, purchasing becomes less spontaneous. We are not so easily swayed into buying when the next “greatest thing” comes along. We evaluate needs versus wants more carefully. The needs of others also become more apparent, and we offer help in ways that did not occur to us before.
Putting all that materialism in a box (or boxes!) requires a long, hard look around the storage rooms in your house, and maybe even in your heart. What are you hanging onto and why? Could it be, that sometimes you buy things in an effort to fill your heart, rather than your house?
God wants to fill your heart with his wisdom, love, and unending grace. Make room for him to move in. Give him space to store his things – good, everlasting things.
Press down hard when you place materialism in that box, then seal it shut, and kick it to the curb.
Prayer for the Week:
Blessed be your name above all earthly things. Grant me honest perspective on the things I store in my life. Help me accumulate more faith and fewer possessions. Guide me to best serve you in areas where I enjoy giving. Journey beside me as I continue to box up materialism, and make more room for you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen