We are called as believers to build the kingdom of God by showing other people love in the world, by not focusing on money and stuff, by focusing on the things of real value, Faith, Family, Friendship and Having Fun. The real things of value in this world cannot be purchased with money anyway, right?
I was reading the bible this morning and came across words in Matthew 6 that warned me not to collect valuable material possessions, for doing so would give criminals reason to steal from me. It goes on to warn that if I spend money and time on the accumulation of material things and wealth it would mean I was not helping my fellow man (referenced also in Mathew 6), the ones who could use a hand, and we know there are many people in the world suffering from starvation and easily preventable diseases.
Letting Go of Stuff
The downsizing phases that many encounter during their latter years. Some people gain the wisdom and insight to begin letting go earlier in life. They keep their money and limit their consumption choices as consumers to essential goods needed to function, food, fuel, housing. By focusing on financial frugality, people that live below their means are able to "weather" economic storms better, but they are also able to help people that are "down on luck". How many people are down on "luck" because their spent their income like Fools?
Letting go of ones materials possessions can be quite a mind trip. The mental bender of letting go requires a lot of effort for people like me that live in a culture that encourages the needless consumption of "things" from nearly every angle.
I am a dyed in the wool full on consumer who realizes that I have a problem with "buying". I personally struggle with "flashlights" and "consumer electronics" and "Shoes" > In thinking back over my life I find that I have come into the possession of and sold, given away, recycled or disposed of a great numbers of things. many of which were not essential to my existence or my enjoyment thereof.
"Vehicle purchases are emotional" said a friend of mine who sold cars for more than 10 years. In general people are not purely "rational" consumers. People have feelings, and those feelings motivate ideas, choices, actions, decisions and behaviors. We are surrounded my a world of "marketing" that has the sole objective of convincing you that the purchase of this or that "thing" will make your life better in some way, perhaps even intangibly as a "status symbol". Jewelry for example.
The needless consumption of "stuff" is good for the economy. In a growth driven economy consumers are the engine that drives the job creation train speeding towards a cliff. What cliff? The cliff of Earths Natural Resource limitations in the face of 7 billion concurrently living human consumers almost all of whom are "chasing the Jones's" in some way or another.
In our current global economy needless consumerism creates a lot of economic activity, and that economic activity creates jobs, and jobs give people livelihoods to support themselves. I for example sell "stuff" to create income to support myself and my Wife and our cat. I can barely pay all of my bills at this point and in thinking about why repeatedly, I started to think about my bills, and where they were coming from.
As I pulled out a thick wad of receipts out of my wallet the other morning I found myself thinking yet again about where my money is going. Later that morning I was reading Mathew 6 in the amplified digital bible, and Oh how it became clear to me that I was part of the problem. My spending on non-essential goods was creating a constant financial pinch, albeit not a bad one. I am happy in the sense that I am able to meet all of my needs and some of my wants: and it is the "wants" that I am talking about here in this posting.
Do you really "Want" something that will add "real" value to your life? What will you do with this next "thing" that you can not do already. Have you ever made a purchase that your later regretted? Do you own things that you find that you very rarely if ever use? Its not enough to simply get ride of your stuff, are you thinking about how to stop being a "thing addict" ?
I think you get the picture!
Perhaps it is time to take a hard look at what you own! Do you really want to keep all that stuff? Are your "things" really adding enjoyment and value in your life? Many people find themselves stressed out trying to "deal" with all of their things. When I moved out of my parents gigantic suburban home into a tiny urban apartment I found and continue to find myself dealing with stuff that I had accumulated over the years and I cannot keep it all. I have to continue selling my things, donating my things, recycling my things and managing my stuff to minimize the amount of stuff I have to manage and store because I am out of storage. The storage situation is so tight at my place that I am building rack shelving with 2x4s to clean it up: get the "Stuff" "out of the way" so to speak. Meg and I are currently storing our stuff in other peoples homes temporarily as we continue to sell off and consolidate our things and construct interior storage space for the few things we really want to keep.
If you can relate to what I am talking about here please stop and "think about" what you really need to hold onto: you can not take it with you to the grave and when you die you will leave a material legacy of "stuff" behind. What are you going to leave behind in the world ? Who is going to deal with it after you are gone ?
Does the Word of God in Matthew 6 strike you with inspiration to reconsider your "things", to really start "Thinking About It ? "
Have a look:
Amplified Bible (AMP)
6 Take care not to do your good deeds publicly or before men, in order to be seen by them; otherwise you will have no reward [[a]reserved for and awaiting you] with and from your Father Who is in heaven.
2 Thus, whenever you give to the poor, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites in the synagogues and in the streets like to do, that they may be [b]recognized and honored and praised by men. Truly I tell you, they have their reward [c]in full already.
3 But when you give to charity, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,
4 So that your deeds of charity may be in secret; and your Father Who sees in secret will reward you openly.
5 Also when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by people. Truly I tell you, they have their reward [d]in full already.
6 But when you pray, go into your [most] private room, and, closing the door, pray to your Father, Who is in secret; and your Father, Who sees in secret, will reward you in the open.
7 And when you pray, do not heap up phrases (multiply words, repeating the same ones over and over) as the Gentiles do, for they think they will be heard for their much speaking.
8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.
9 Pray, therefore, like this: Our Father Who is in heaven, hallowed (kept holy) be Your name.
10 Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven ([e]left, remitted, and let go of the debts, and have [f]given up resentment against) our debtors.
13 And lead (bring) us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
14 For if you forgive people their trespasses [their [g]reckless and willful sins, [h]leaving them, letting them go, and [i]giving up resentment], your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
15 But if you do not forgive others their trespasses [their [j]reckless and willful sins, [k]leaving them, letting them go, and[l]giving up resentment], neither will your Father forgive you your trespasses.
16 And whenever you are fasting, do not look gloomy and [m]sour and [n]dreary like the hypocrites, for they put on a dismal countenance, that their fasting may be apparent to and seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward[o]in full already.
17 But when you fast, perfume your head and wash your face,
18 So that your fasting may not be noticed by men but by your Father, Who sees in secret; and your Father, Who sees in secret, will reward you in the open.
19 Do not [p]gather and heap up and store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust and worm consumeand destroy, and where thieves break through and steal.
20 But [q]gather and heap up and store for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust nor worm consume and destroy, and where thieves do not break through and steal;
21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
22 The eye is the lamp of the body. So if your eye is sound, your entire body will be full of light.
23 But if your eye is unsound, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the very light in you [your [r]conscience] is darkened, how dense is that darkness!
24 No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stand by and be devoted to the one and despise and be [s]against the other. You cannot serve God and mammon ([t]deceitful riches, money, possessions, or [u]whatever is trusted in).
25 Therefore I tell you, stop being [v]perpetually uneasy (anxious and worried) about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink; or about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life greater [in quality] than food, and the body [far above and more excellent] than clothing?
26 Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father keeps feeding them. Are you not worth much more than they?
27 And who of you by worrying and being anxious can add one unit of measure (cubit) to his stature or to the [w]span of his life?
28 And why should you be anxious about clothes? Consider the lilies of the field and [x]learn thoroughly how they grow; they neither toil nor spin.
29 Yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his [y]magnificence (excellence, dignity, and grace) was not arrayed like one of these.
30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and green and tomorrow is tossed into the furnace, will He not much more surely clothe you, O you of little faith?
31 Therefore do not worry and be anxious, saying, What are we going to have to eat? or, What are we going to have to drink? or, What are we going to have to wear?
32 For the Gentiles (heathen) wish for and crave and diligently seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows well that you need them all.
33 But seek ([z]aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness ([aa]His way of doing and being right), and then all these things [ab]taken together will be given you besides.
34 So do not worry or be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have worries and anxieties of its own. Sufficient for each day is its own trouble.