Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure, For my heart rejoiced in all my labor; And this was my reward from all my labor. Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done And on the labor in which I had toiled; And indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind. There was no profit under the sun. Ecclesiastes 2:10, 11
Do you like my title? I dug it out of an article – of all places, from Time Magazine, March 23, by Josh Sanburn. The title is “The Joy of Less.” The following caption states: “Americans Have More Possessions Than Any Society in History. Can We Finally take Control of Them?” I encourage all of my readers to read it – it will convict most of you; it did me.
I started to write a book entitled, “Bigger Barns are not Better”; I have it half done. I kind of lost enthusiasm when my kids reminded me that I had two houses, two barns, eight bedrooms and four and one-half bathrooms – and I am planning to be raptured out of the world! My four cars have never been in my garage, have yours?
My problem is ‘tools’. I collect old and new tools. As I surveyed my full garage, I made a pledge to never go back to Harbor Freight. I was doing quite well until the heavy rains came and I needed a second Sump Pump to keep the water out of my basement in order to save my furnace and my hot water heater. The more possessions I have, the more I need to maintain them.
I am not alone. The article went on to claim, “three quarters of the garages surveyed in one study were so full the homeowners couldn’t park their cars inside.” In another place, the article continues, “American children are only 3.1% of the world’s population – yet have 40% of all the toys.” The average American home contains 248 garments and 29 pairs of shoes. Every year we continue buying 64 more pieces of clothes and 7 more shoes. “Americans commit close to one half of their annual expenditures to unnecessary items.”
All this has spawned a $24 billion self-storage industry – yet we still buy. The FedEx and UPS trucks keep rolling up to our doors with items we buy on Amazon and from other internet companies. This in turn has created the need for ‘junk haulers’, cleaning consultants and professional organizers.
Is this making us all happier? No! We buy because we are anxious and dissatisfied –which causes us to become more anxious and depressed because of the pressure of debt and the ‘smothering of clutter’ – so we buy more.
But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. I Timothy 4:6-10
We, as apostolic Christians, pride ourselves in that we have set ourselves apart from “the World” in dress and lifestyle, and we resist ungodly pleasures. Yet in the areas of worldly possessions we not only accept them, but we desire them and actively pursue them. We equate affluence with the “blessings of God.” I have witnessed many among us judging the poor as lazy, evidenced by being on Food Stamps and at the same time justifying the obscene salaries and bonuses of CEOs – because they earned it. I have heard capitalism promoted as next to godliness and cleanliness.
“Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head” Matthew 8:20.
We are not poor any more. As I view the affluence of some our members and edifices we call churches, I wonder if Jesus would be pleased. There is a world out there that needs Jesus. There are many of our Brothers and Sisters in many foreign fields that need what we throw away.
Possessions may not be wrong, but when the possessions possess us – they are wrong.
“… Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.” Proverbs 30: 8, 9
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