1 John 2:16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world.
Luke 12:15 And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
Luke 16:19-31 and Matthew 19:16-30
We live in a materialistic society. We are driven to obtain more and more. We work hard, long hours to acquire more and to maintain all the things we already own.
Successes – and failures – are now defined by what we own and the condition of our possessions. People are no longer defined by their character and integrity – they are defined by their material possessions.
Jesus followers are not exempt from the above statements. We are human, just like anyone else. God is Mot pleased when we allow material possessions to eclipse who He is, what He wants For us, and how He Commands us to live for Him. Here are some of the ways we allow our possessions to sin against God:
• When we depend on our possessions to define who we are, we dishonor God, because we cease to let Jesus be what others see when they see us.
• Our need for more and better things turns our need and dependence from Christ to the world.
• When we acquire possessions beyond what we need or can maintain, we dishonor God because we aren’t able to be good stewards of our time or money. Both are needed to maintain worldly goods, and they’re needed to keep our living areas reasonably neat and clean.
• If there is too much stuff that we no longer use, or really want, we withhold God being able to use those items as resources for people who have far greater needs than ours.
Excess of possessions does not glorify God. Too many things keep us from allowing Christ to be our center, and they keep us from being at our best to be used by Him.
Do you allow yourself to be define by your possessions? Have your possessions begun to take over the places God needs to be first in your life? Do you own more than you can maintain, and do your possessions take over your house beyond what you are able to keep clean and neat?
If so, here are some pointers to help you break ties to material items, declutter your possessions, and bring the focus back to Christ:
• The very first – and most important – step is to decide firmly in your heart and mind that you will no longer allow yourself to be defined or taken over by your possessions. Pray, asking God to give you strength to get rid of your excess possessions. Put God back at the center of your life, and do what you need to do in order to restore a right relationship with Him. Ask Him to help you be brutally honest with yourself as you go through your possessions.
• Start small, such as with one box or a drawer. Anything larger will likely lead to burnout. You can move on to the bigger areas once you have a knack for the process. Keep in mind that this is a very, very long process.
• Ask yourself: Do I have a real need/use for this item? Have I used this item in the last six months (if seasonal, did you use it last season?)? Do I love this item, and does it make me smile? If any of those answers are no, then it does not belong in your home. Note: Items used for hobbies and creature comforts get special mention. Don’t throw away all your hobby/comfort items because they are not necessary for survival – if you’re actively pursuing the hobby, ask the questions as they relate to their necessity to the hobby. If it’s a comfort, make sure with God that the item is not overused, nor does it come between you and Him.
• If you answered no to any of the questions above, you now need to decide what to do with these items. If they are in decent condition, but you don’t love them anymore, donate or sell them. I advocate donating as they will be used by someone with a great need, instead of potentially cluttering someone else’s home. If the item is something you use but you aren’t happy with the condition or how dated it is, consider upgrading. If the item is not in good condition, toss it.
• Seriously consider redundant items. If you have multiples, ask yourself if you really need more than one. Get rid of the extras.
• If you find items you’ve forgotten about, donate/sell/toss immediately. If you haven’t missed it, you don’t need it.
• Stop the cycle in its tracks. If you buy something, make sure you are not re-introducing clutter into your life. Try making your purchases absolute necessity items or upgrades only. I have made a decision that for every new item I obtain, one goes out the door.
• Go through this process twice. As you become more disciplined, you become more honest with whether or not you need an object.
Now that you have begun to get rid of your material excess, here are some of the benefits you will experience:
• More time for friends, family, and fulfilling God’s purpose for your life
• Less to keep clean
• Less to maintain
• More money to give to God, take care of debt, or use for life experiences such as travel, museums, conferences – life enrichment, basically
• More money to upgrade your current items to better quality, longer lasting items. If you replace less often, you have more money to use for the above items
• You cease to be able to allow your possessions to define you. You are forced to look inside for your values and what defines you. This is scary – and very fulfilling.
• Best of all, you are no longer burdened with the material excess God wants us to let go of anyway. God can use you even more if you have fewer ties to the world.
Here are some extra resources for you to learn more about decluttering and de-owning:
Zen Mind: How To Declutter Take a look at his listed resources as well.