This time of the year is upon us with full force. Trips are being made with strategic fervor as many are planning with passion. What hyped up business am I talking about? Oh, just simply this little thing called shopping and the many purchasing trips which will be made over the remainder of this year.
Let me take a few minutes to provide a brief caution for those who would lend me their eyes and their heart. As you are going about this time where we can all get wrapped up (pun intended) in gift giving, want lists, and the pressure to have the latest or the best, please remember that the answer to most of life’s issues is not found in more stuff. In fact, I have discovered as a man that the more stuff I have, the less peace I possess.
Your life is not made up of how much stuff you possess. Actually, the more stuff you have, the more likely you are to be possessed by your stuff. It’s called materialism. And, it’s the surest path to a peace-less life.
How about a cautionary tale? Take a look at this earthly story with a heavenly meaning that Jesus shared. It’s recorded in Luke 12:16-21.
“The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’
“So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”
It’s not that we can’t have any stuff. Please know this and rest assured that you are not automatically more spiritual if you have less stuff. Neither should we assume that those who are blessed with an abundance of stuff have no spirituality or peace with God.
Now back to my manhood discovery. Since I am the responsible party of my household to fix, repair, and or replace items in disrepair, I have discovered that the less stuff I possess, the more free time I can keep in my schedule for the things I enjoy most. The more stuff I have equates to more of my time being possessed by my possessions in order to keep them all maintained and functioning. During those seasons of life when I’ve been responsible for two to three jobs, keeping up three vehicles and all our lawn equipment, providing pastoral care and preparing sermons, keeping up the maintenance of our residence and rental property, I had no margin in my schedule and was thereby afforded very little peace in my day to day life. Every fifteen-minute segment of time had to be productive.
“Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (Luke 12:15).
In my earliest years of marriage, I was blessed with good neighbors. A quiet and well-mannered couple that were about thirty years older than us lived on the adjoining property and we shared a driveway. This was their second home. With two homes, five vehicles, a boat, and many other possessions that demanded his time, the man of the house never seemed to slow down long enough to enjoy life. He seldom attended any worship services and his job often demanded fifty hours a week. Sure, many would applaud his hard working efforts and some would even call it the American Dream.
If that’s what the American Dream is, then it’s not for me. At this point in my life, my goal is for more day to day peace. And I have found that the best way for me to have the quality of life that I desire is to have less quantity that I’m responsible for in life. Yeah, I like stuff too and I like to buy stuff for my wife and children. I want my bride of twenty-five plus years to have what she wants. But by God’s grace, we have both learned how to control our wants and we give Him glory and thanks for the treasure we’ve laid up in Heaven. Sure, it’s okay to have possessions, just don’t let your possessions possess you.
You see, I don’t really need more stuff to make me wealthy. I’m already rich. I’m rich toward God because my real treasure is in His Kingdom. And it’s not a Kingdom of this world that’s consumed by eating, drinking, and owning the biggest toys (see Romans 14:17-18). It’s a Kingdom that’s all about righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing…” (Ephesians 1:3).
I’m rich (toward God)! How about you? Are you currently possessed by your possessions? Friend, I encourage you to hold on loosely to the things of earth and don’t let go of the things of Heaven.