BY RACHEL AXTMANN
I love to shop. I love to bargain hunt. I just love to find the perfect accent piece for my home or accessory to compliment an outfit. I could go to a flea market, a discount store, or a fancy mall. To me, it’s all enjoyable. I get it . . . you can either totally relate or you completely disagree! The point is, shopping is an area of my life that I really enjoy. It’s a hobby, my little escape from my usual responsibilities. But, if left unchecked, it can quickly become materialism.
You see, this peculiar thing begins to happen to me when I buy or receive something. I typically love it, and it brings me a level of happiness, yet, the more I have, the more I want. It’s like I never knew what I was missing out on until now. And oh boy, now that I have it, I want more of it! And “lucky” for me, there are tons of options available that can conveniently arrive on my doorstep in two days with free shipping. Be honest, who gets a little excited when you know a brown package is arriving at your doorstep that day?
The more I have, the more I have a desire to hold on to my things. Who knows when I might want to make a fondue dinner? And maybe I’ll wear that bridesmaid dress to an event someday? Those high heels that kill my feet – you never know, they might not bother me in a few years, right? Or the clothes that used to fit, maybe they will again? I find an odd sense of security in knowing that I have these items, knowing that I’m prepared for whatever may come my way. This kind of thinking, however, is very skewed in light of the wisdom found in God’s word.
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasure on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Matthew 6:19-21
My heart can often become more loyal to my possessions than it is to serving God’s purposes and plans. The truth is, whether you have a lot, or whether you have little, my guess is that most of us have more than we actually need. Things, and the quest of accumulating more things, can weigh us down. More importantly, it can take our focus off our own real needs and the needs of others.
Acquiring things can often be a band aid for what our hearts and souls really desire. Sure, we absolutely need to be wise to provide the necessary things for both ourselves and our families. However, we need to be on guard, not letting the pursuit of stuff sidetrack us from filling our lives with meaningful relationships with God and with others. You will always be left with a feeling of emptiness and searching apart from these two things.
“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” – 1 Timothy 6:6-8
If you are feeling bogged down by your possessions or the constant acquiring of more, set aside an hour or two each week to clean out a closet or go through your cabinet. Simplify your life a bit by pairing down the items you have to the necessities. If you haven’t used it in a year, you very likely won’t ever use it! Donate the excess to a friend who is in need.
I have found that there is something far more enjoyable than acquiring, and it’s sharing with those who are most in need. This simple practice, done regularly, will have rippling effects. You will find your personal space to be less cluttered, you’ll have less to care for, and it will keep your focus off of your stuff so that you can turn your minds towards the needs of others. By doing this, you put yourself in the position of being a blessing to others. Now that’s storing up treasure in heaven, where it really matters!