I HAVE TOO MUCH STUFF

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“If you have two coats, one of them belongs to the poor”
— Dorothy Day

John Wesley was one of the wealthiest men in 18th century England but he undertook a vegetarian lifestyle while at Oxford in view of the paralyzing poverty of the underclass of his day. His reasoning is as convicting now as it was then: “How can I eat meat when others have no bread?” Wesley determined to live as simply as possible and earn as much as possible so he could give more alms for those living in hunger and poverty.

Does this seem extreme? Not if we take seriously what Jesus says he will say to those of us who spend our lives over-consuming and ignoring the needs around us:

Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or
needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?
He will reply, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for
one of the least of these, you did not do for me.”
(Matthew 25:44-45)

Pray for me. I want to begin practicing what I preach. I have been reading a lot about “minimalism” and I keep hearing God say to me, “Un-clutter your life Richard.” What I am seeking is this: A lifestyle that helps me question what things add value to my life. If I begin clearing the clutter from my life, I can make room for that which is most important. I plan on spending the next year unpacking what this truly means for me and making the necessary changes.

James Mulholland was watching a Christian from Sudan being interviewed on television. “How can our rich Christian brothers and sisters in America ignore the fact that we in Sudan are starving to death?” Mulholland thought to himself, “I’m glad I don’t have to answer that question.” At that moment the Holy Spirit tapped Mulholland on the shoulder and whispered, “You do.”

There are some who interpret the miracle of the feeding of the 5000 (Mark 6:35-44) in a more human and practical way. Could it be that what happened was that people saw Jesus take the little food he had and offered it to them? And, being deeply moved by his compassion and generosity, suddenly the baskets and packages of food that had been hoarded and hidden by hundreds were freely offered to those around them.

We may not think that’s much of a miracle but it is definitely a miracle when people turn from selfishness and decide to be gracious and generous. Over-consumption is not a Kingdom principle and when we pray, “Give us this day our daily bread,” we are asking to be blessed with a spirit of simplicity and frugality. May we all look for ways to clear not only our homes but our heads and hearts in order to embrace a minimalist lifestyle that reflects the kingdom of God.

How much stuff can you give away in 2017?

-Richard

 

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3 Comments

  1. A lot! I am slowly coming around to this way of thinking, too. Materialism too easily becomes an idol. Let’s pray for each other this year in accomplishing this goal.

  2. It is so easy to collect things [junk to others], but what good are they doing if they just lay around. I use the excuse that I might need this in my next venture into the DIY crafting world, but it gets misplaced or is not the right color etc. I cleaned out a big garbage bag of stuff , but it made little difference, it seems that the stuff I kept just spread out and filled the empty spaces. This happens in life, you rid yourself of that unneeded baggage, but something else pops up and tries to divert your thoughts and energy toward it, when you should be concentrating on your relationship with God.

  3. Richard,
    Oswald Chambers echoes this principle well in today’s reading in “My Utmost for His Highest.” LORD help me abandon myself completely unto You.

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