Have you ever felt as though you have too much stuff? Your home contains all sorts of items that provide entertainment, but you never have time to use them. If you have found yourself with similar thoughts, you’re not alone. Accumulated clutter can gather dust and mold contributing to allergies. It can also be a trip hazard and a fire hazard. Too much stuff causes stress, anxiety and mental drain. It can interfere with important life duties like work and leisure.
Minimalism Is A Trend
Accumulating stuff became enough of a trend in the 20th century that living with as little as possible became a popular counter-culture movement as the years went on. It goes by a couple of names including minimalism and essentialism. The goal of minimalism is to live with objects you use regularly and dispense with all other unnecessary items. While minimalism may not be for everyone, living with less is certainly a biblical principle, as written in Luke 12:15. The life of Jesus, his disciples, and the early church offer a blueprint to emulate. They all gave willingly to anyone in need, often selling their possessions to provide. If we share the blessings God bestows, we will not only bless others, but we will also receive a greater blessing than if we hoard them. God is calling you to declutter your life.
God Calls Us To Declutter
In fact, the Bible calls us toward radical giving, as written in Philippians 3:8. Ellen White offers an equally strong testimony. “Oh, must Christ, the Majesty of heaven, the King of glory, bear the heavy cross, and wear the thorny crown, and drink the bitter cup, while we recline at ease, glorify ourselves, and forget the souls He died to redeem by His precious blood? No; let us give while we have the power.”
If God has chosen to bless you, it is not for your use alone. He desires you to take part in giving, even to the point of discomfort, that you may gain Christ. “In His infinite love He has granted men the privilege of becoming partakers of the divine nature, and, in their turn, of diffusing blessings to their fellow men. This is the highest honor, the greatest joy, that it is possible for God to bestow upon men.”
Blessing in Re-purposing
A few years ago, I had the chance to evangelize in Cuba. I was humbled by the widespread repairing and repurposing that is common there. I witnessed the pastor at the church where I held my evangelistic service have his dress shoes restored. The cobbler not only resoled the shoes, but he also sewed several cracks in the leather that were over one inch long. Once they had been polished and the pastor was wearing them, no one could tell the shoes were broken! At home in the United States, people throw away perfectly good dress shoes because they are out of fashion. What a contrast.
The Bible has a lot to say about wealth and how we treat it. Many of its comments seem acrimonious towards wealth and the rich. Wealth can be a major barrier to trusting God. It seems the more we have, the more we can depend on ourselves, the harder it is to completely trust God.
The Love Of Wealth
There is an interesting phenomenon in psychology termed “loss aversion.” Our brains are hardwired against losing or giving away money and things. Interestingly, it becomes a bigger barrier the wealthier a person is. This can lead to increased stress, anxiety, and paranoia.
Jesus said it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a sewing needle than for a rich person to get into heaven! Appalled, the disciples asked how anyone could go to heaven if it was so hard for the rich. Jesus said, “With God, all things are possible” Matthew 19:26 ESV.
It is not the possession of wealth and riches that is problematic, but the love of these. God can replace your selfish heart with a giving heart. He can replace your love of money with his selfless love. When we trust God, we become less averse to giving or losing our wealth. Look at the response of Zacchaeus. When he experienced the changing power of God, he became one of the most giving people in Israel! If you are ready, God will give you the spirit of Zacchaeus. Ultimately, you are not losing anything when you give to his cause, you are just investing your earthly treasure in the heavenly bank. He offers spiritual freedom and eternal riches as a replacement.
What Is True Happiness?
Humans, especially those in the West, buy more things than we know what to do with. We fill attics and garages and even rent more storage space to keep all our things. Those things can make us feel like we have an abundant life. It is common to equate an abundant life with an abundance of money or possessions.
Increased wealth does not necessarily bring true happiness. Increased wealth will make a person happier if they start from a position of poverty. Poverty comes with many stressors. So as wealth increases, their basic needs become more secure. Major stressors like paying next month’s rent are removed and happiness increases. However, this trend follows a curve rather than a continually increasing slope. Beyond a certain amount of wealth, happiness does not continue increasing. Concerns about the stock market, property destruction, or theft often keep wealthy people awake at night.
As new levels of wealth are achieved and a person associates with others of a higher socioeconomic status, new standards of material possessions become expected. This leads to more stress.
An article by Sonja Lyubomirsky, Professor of Psychology at the University of California, points out several research-based reasons for increased stress that often accompany wealth. She notes that as income goes up, its positive effects may be partially offset by negative effects such as increased pressures on your time, increased responsibility, and especially a depreciated ability to enjoy simple everyday pleasures.
King Solomon understood this when he asked for wisdom rather than wealth, health, or power. A truly abundant life does not consist of possessions but positive relationships. A close relationship with God brings more joy than abundant wealth (Psalm 4:7). Loving relationships with fellow believers bring an abundant life (1 Peter 4:8). When we have the life Jesus offers, we will be able to have abundant joy and happiness whether we are poor or rich in earthly possessions. The life Jesus offers enables us to willingly forego earthly comforts for the sake of God, our fellow man, and the preservation of creation. The abundance Jesus offers is innately “green” and creation friendly because it is completely immaterial.
We live in a fast-paced busy world that puts us under a lot of stress. Here is a simple method that helps reduce stress no matter your financial circumstances. It has the benefits of decreasing heart rate, blood pressure, muscle tension and feelings of anger. Stop at least once a day outside and take 20 seconds to just breathe deeply. You can do this walking to or from the car or the mailbox in the morning. Stand still, take in the sounds of nature, breathe deeply, and offer a short prayer to God. Pray that God will give you the spirit of Zacchaeus and of King Solomon.
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