Physical possessions can become idols to us. They can compete with God for our affections and when we allow them to, they can become our first love.
"Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; these things saith He that holdeth the seven stars in His right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles and are not, and hast found them, liars, and hast borne, and hast patience, and for My name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless, I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love." Revelation 2:1-4
We can have ever so much going for us, spiritually, but if we love anything or anyone more than we love Jesus, that thing or person has come between us and Him.
Every slice of the Whole-Person Pie© springs from the spiritual.
What is in the heart determines our behavior in all aspects of our lives.
Jesus said, "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." Matthew 12:34 (KJV)
"Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life." Proverbs 4:23 (KJV)
Here are six questions that will help you view the minimizing of physical possessions through a spiritual lens and unearth what is in the heart.
Jesus said, "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." Matthew 6:19-21 (KJV)
2. When did I last use this? If something is stuffed into a dresser drawer, buried in the back of a closet, hidden in a cupboard, high on a shelf, or otherwise out of sight, chances are it can be classified as excess. If you really need, use, or enjoy something it will usually be out where you can regularly see it and where it is readily available. Obviously, there are things that we cherish, such as collections, family heirlooms, children's artwork, photographs, etc., that are out of sight but still comfort and bring us joy. Those things will be forever precious to us, and the place they have earned in our hearts guarantees a permanent place in our homes. What I am referring to are the inanimate items that are of no emotional significance and are stored away out of sight "just in case you might need them someday." It is easy to forget unseen possessions, and if you no longer need, use, or enjoy something, why keep it? There are others who desperately do need the things that have become unnecessary to us. "He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise." Luke 3:11 (KJV)
4. Where does this rank on my list of priorities? As Christians, God should come first, and our spouse and children should come next. If the conditions to own, maintain, or keep something are requiring us to put God on the back burner and rarely see our family, there is obviously a conflict of interests, and our priorities are not in proper alignment. "For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God." Exodus 34:14 (KJV)
5. Who is affected by my keeping this? Having a cluttered, overstuffed home and environment cultivates disorganization, stifles productivity and breeds discontent and irritability, not only in ourselves but in the loved ones who share our living space. Home should be a haven—a resting place—a comforting atmosphere where all who abide feel a sense of calm and freedom to unwind, relax, and feel safe. Hoarding and clinging to what is not meaningful and beneficial at the expense of our spouse, children's, other household members', and our own peace is just plain unfair and self-serving. "Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother." Romans 14:13 (ESV)
6. What should I do with this? Grab four different boxes and label them, "Keep", "Trash", "Donate", and "Sell." As you work through the first five questions, decide, item by item, if it is a keeper, trash, a donation, or something to sell, then put it in the appropriate box. Keep filling each box as you minimize. Create a permanent place for everything you are going to keep and as soon as the "Keep" box is full, empty it by putting each item in its place. As soon as the "Donate" box is full, take it to your car and put it in your trunk. As you see the person you are giving the item to or drive by your donation spot, pass the donation on, without a backward glance. As the "Sell" box becomes full, decide how/where you will sell each item. Ebay, Craig's List, Letgo, consignment shops, classified newspaper ads, flea markets, free bulletin boards, and yard sales are all obvious choices. Dispose of the "Trash" box, and you are good to go. You will be amazed at how this simple act of dividing every single item in your home into four categories gives you a sense of accomplishment. I'll warn you, this is a good kind of addiction! Once you get those boxes emptied, you can't wait to get started on the next round of minimizing and filling them up again! "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." James 1:5 (KJV)
Some closing thoughts—
- Focus most on what you're taking with you to eternity. The rest will be left behind.
- Excess is everything beyond what we need, use, and enjoy.
- Your minimizing journey will not look exactly like anyone else's. Follow God's path for you.
- When in doubt as to what to do in any situation, seek the Lord for guidance. He sees the future, and if you follow Him wholeheartedly and exactly, you will never go wrong.
- When it came time for Jesus to begin His earthly ministry, He traveled light.
- Traveling light sets us completely free to do anything He asks even when it is without a moment's notice.
- If you have two of something, keep one and let the other(s) go.
- The less you have, the less you have to worry about.
- Keep it simple ~ go get four boxes, label them keep, trash, donate, and sell, then pick a room, drawer, closet, cupboard, or section of your house, and get started!