Then he said, “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.” Luke 12:15 (NLT)
I really enjoy new things. There is something so exhilarating about liberating shoes from the box and sliding them to your feet or pulling on a nice comfortable tshirt that fits with perfection. How about gadgets? Gadgets are the best because they do stuff that you didn’t know you needed to do and they tend to have one basic simple purpose. Like the bottle opener I got that looks like the Millennium Falcon. I didn’t know I needed it until I saw it for sale on some Facebook ad. I have other bottle openers, but this one would just change everything—the Force is with this one. Sometimes there is nothing better than some thing that is new.
Which is my problem.
I want new things as bad as my kids want doughnuts on Sunday mornings. I’m not going to say new things are bad, but my strong desire for new possessions, that’s where the trouble lies. I have no doubt that if I had the means to buy anything, I would. Even so, I tend to buy things in spite of my lack of means. I might ask myself, “Tony, why do you want this? Do you actually need it?” (Yes, I talk to myself and I am ok with it.) But even with the personal questioning, there is anxiety in that moment, like I’ll be missing out on something if I don’t buy that new thing. My awareness of this has become a deeper issue.
This has become spiritual.
When I am at home I am bothered by all of the crap I own. I have enough tshirts for a couple families. I don’t even want to talk about how much stuff my kids have. It’s embarrassing. All the possessions I have is taking up space, and I don’t just mean physically. All of it is taking up room in my soul. This realization came as I was having an emotional battle while pulling clothes out of my drawers and closet. I had to convince myself to let things go even though I didn’t even like some of the clothes. It sounds so pathetic when I think about it.
My bond with stuff is borderline idolatry.
I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me, but I am guessing you might be facing this issue, too. I bet there is that box (or five) you saved some things in believing you might “need” them someday or it holds some very precious items, yet you haven’t pulled them out in eons. If these things were so important, then why haven’t they been used or looked at? Are they actually meaningful? Do they really add any value to life? One time I bought a house once because my BED would fit in the bedroom. (Why couldn’t I have just sold the stupid bed?!) I want my life to be filled with things that matter and are useful. Above that, I don’t want to have the emotional ties to things that I have. I want a new relationship with what I own. This all reminds me of Jesus saying, “Life is not measured by how much you own.” I’m often finding myself measuring life by what I own! As Americans, we are constantly being bombarded with the ideology that possessions make a man! It’s about time we do something different, something new. If you want to evaluate what you possess, ask these questions:
- Does it own me or do I own it?
- Am I going to be using this on a regular basis or is it something I can borrow from someone when I need it?
- Does it add value to my everyday life?
- Do I know someone who needs this more than me? If so, pass it on.
I think these stand as good filters, but add what would be helpful for you (please comment if you can think of something else). Of course the hardest part of this is actually getting rid of it and not finding justification to keep it around (definitely the hardest part for me!). Just be reminded of all the new space you’ll have in life. Space to enjoy the things you own. Space to spend time with friends and family. Space to have money for meaningful things. Space for God to fill. With all that space, there will be a new way to measure that which is in your life. There will be more room for joy and less for anxiety. That’s the best new thing you might ever own.