The Bible has a lot to say about wealth, money, the things money can buy and the things it can’t buy. This topic has been on my mind lately because the apartment I and my family have been living in for the past six years is no longer what we need, so we’re moving. As is usually the case when a family moves, we’ve been going through all our material possessions, (aka our “stuff”) packing up what we want to keep and throwing out or giving away everything else.
This process has got me thinking about material possessions or “stuff” and here’s what I feel like God is prompting me to share with whoever might be reading this in the hope that it might help someone deal with similar issues.
I arrived in Israel almost 18 years ago with very little stuff. For many years, I never had much money to spend on stuff or anyplace to put it, but I always had what I needed because people gave me stuff or I found it somewhere or other. That was also a season when I was young and single and didn’t need much stuff.
At the tender age of 30, I finally managed to get my first real job which allowed me to stop couch surfing and rent my very own apartment, where I lived alone for three years before getting married, acquiring a fair amount of stuff in the process. In the months leading up to our wedding I started thinning out my stuff because I knew that when my wife moved in, she’d be bringing lots of her own stuff. During this time, she also got rid of a bunch of her stuff that she didn’t think she’d need anymore.
Nevertheless, when she moved in and brought all her stuff with her, it was necessary for both of us to do more thinning. A year later, our eldest son was born and our congregation and friends generously gave us lots of stuff for him. We quickly realized that we needed a bigger place, so we moved to the place we’re in now, in the process getting rid of a bunch of stuff we didn’t want to pack up and take with us.
In the six years we’ve been living in the place we’re in now, it was never far from my mind that we’d someday be leaving, so I made a deliberate effort to minimize the amount of stuff I brought into our apartment and to NEVER miss an opportunity to get rid of stuff we didn’t need anymore. I don’t know when the “minimalist” movement became a thing, but I feel safe in saying I was way ahead of those guys.
And yet, in the last few weeks as we have gone through all our stuff, packing up much and getting rid of much, I see that despite my best efforts, we still have a LOT of stuff.
There’s a few different takeaways from this.
Matthew 6: 25-34 says;
“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?
My experience tells me that God can be taken at His word in this regard. Despite never having much money, I’ve never lacked for anything in all the years I’ve been in Israel. He has provided everything I needed, plus a lot more. As part of that process, many members of the Body of Christ here in Israel have helped me along the way and gave me many of the things I needed. Now that I’m in better shape myself I try to also help people who need things. The Christian life is meant to be lived as part of a community, and this is one reason why.
Another relevant verse is 1 Timothy 6:10, which says; “For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”
Once again, my experience tells me that the love of money things can buy can have a similar result.
There is definitely a lot of “stuff” I would like to have but getting it would require me to spend money on it that I wouldn’t have for things that are more important for my family and/or my service to the Kingdom, and having it would also mean that I’d be likely to spend time using it that would be time I didn’t spend with my family and/or serving the Kingdom.
It’s difficult to deny myself this stuff but something that helps me is to remember that someday, one way or the other, all my stuff will be gone, so it’s better to go easy on the acquisition and accumulation of stuff in the first place.
Finally, there’s Mark 8:36, which says “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?”
The relevance of this verse to the topic at hand is so obvious I don’t feel the need to add any comment of my own. But there’s many more passages which speak to these issues, and I encourage you to explore them.
That’s what I’ve got for you this week brothers and sisters. I hope it blessed someone.