This is a re-post from my personal blog, The Christian Homekeeper.
Since we are getting ready to declutter, clean, organize and decorate our homes in the Harvest Homekeeping Event, I thought this might help to inspire and motivate you!
Can money buy us happiness? If we were all gathered together and I asked for a show of hands for that question, I don’t think most of us would raise our hands to it. Mostly, we understand that money doesn’t ultimately buy happiness or joy. So why do we continue to act like we believe it can?
Every time we add to our collection of things, we are in danger of being controlled and possessed by those things. Every time we say “yes” to our children’s or grand-children’s desires for material things when we should have said “no”, we are teaching them to fulfill their own material desires above all else.
The love of money and happiness are incompatible. Jesus said, “It is as hard for a rich man to enter heaven as for a camel to go through the eye of a needle.” His disciples thought that was a hard saying. Perhaps they understood the concept that you don’t have to be Donald Trump or Bill Gates to be thought of as “rich” to most of the world.
According to Barna research, most of the people of the world don’t own a car, have air conditioning, indoor plumbing, access to a doctor or a refrigerator. Based on that information, there are a lot of us working middle class or poor people in the U.S. and Europe who might just have a hard time entering heaven. That’s definitely a hard saying.
The owning of material things is not sinful. No more than money itself is sinful. Money is a tool. Jesus told us that it is the love of that tool that leads to sin. So then the love of our things and the lust to accumulate is materialism and that is a dangerous thing. It causes us to become un-focused and disconnected with family, friends and God. It can change our mind-set to the degree that we are not able to achieve enjoyment of life, even when we have everything we need in life. It is subtle in its work on our minds, just like all sin is. And soon, we are never satisfied.
According to Anne Morrow Lindbergh the secret to loving and enjoying one’s life is finding out “how little one can get along with, not how much.” Just how much of our stuff do we have to love before it becomes materialism? I believe the answer would shock us.
Most women have a longing, sometimes an ache, for a simpler lifestyle. I know I’ve had that longing in my own life. Do you go to great lengths to learn how to make soap, make bread and learn handcrafts? I certainly have. Do you grow a garden and can your family’s foods? Yes, I did. Perhaps you have learned to save and reuse many items as well as “make do” with what you have. I’ve always tried to be a frugal person. I don’t think there is anything wrong with any of them! But while all these endeavors are admirable and worthy pursuits, alone, they cannot bring us the peace and simple lifestyle we yearn for.
What happens many times in the quest for a simple lifestyle (and what happened to me) is that though we are making items and utilizing God’s blessings in a better way, our focus doesn’t change. The focus can still be on “things” and how much we can accumulate, own or produce for ourselves. The assumption is still that the more things we accumulate and own, the happier we will be.
So the way we think about possessions has to change if we want to find our way out of the sinkhole of materialism. It is possible to live what looks like a very frugal lifestyle and still be materialistic at heart.
There only a very few things in life that are truly necessary. The real feat is teaching one’s self to live a contented life without the excess things we are accustomed to having around us and to find a balance between what we possess and what we can do without. Jesus promises that God will provide two things to His children in Matthew 6:33… “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
Again in 1 Timothy 6:8 We are told, “And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.”
The context of these statements is that we are to focus on God and His will, not on accumulating earthly wealth that can only rust, rot and crumble.
The stuff and junk and things we collect don’t bring us simplicity, they simply bring us a false sense of security, pride and comfort. Jesus said, “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where they can be eaten by moths and get rusty, and where thieves break in and steal.” Yet we continue to collect our own stash of stuff. It’s as if we are afraid to step out and let go of our stuff so we continue to collect more, adding to the pile, adding to the pile, adding to our fake security blanket.
It’s a really difficult thing to stand stripped naked of our stuff before the Lord. When we realize though that He is all that we need we have to make that conscious decision to cry out to Him and then to climb out of the stuff and the old habits that created the monster of materialism in our lives. Once you do this, I promise you, you will never be the same again. God can change your thought processes about possessions. You will never be completely content again with meaningless spending and buying junk your family doesn’t need.
Since most of us have far more than we need, here is an exercise for you this holiday season to help you to see how attached you may be to your possessions. It will help you stretch yourself a little in giving away some of them. Get yourself an empty grocery bag.
Now go through the house and pick up at least three things that belong to you, that you will give away and not replace. Immediately go to the local Goodwill, Salvation Army or other place of charity and hand over those items. Don’t wait til tomorrow.
Now think about these wise words from Randy Alcorn concerning Possessions:
THE MORE YOU HAVE, the more you want.
THE MORE YOU HAVE, the less you’re satisfied.
THE MORE YOU HAVE, the more people will come after it.
THE MORE YOU HAVE, the more you realize it does you no good.
THE MORE YOU HAVE, the more you have to worry about.
THE MORE YOU HAVE, the more you can hurt yourself by holding on to it.
THE MORE YOU HAVE, the more you have to lose.
THE MORE YOU HAVE, the more you’ll leave behind.
© 2008 Sylvia Britton