This morning I’m watching as Ethan, Ezra and Eli go through all their toys and make big decisions. We assigned to each of them a travel bin, so they could choose what they want to go in it. Whatever fits can come with us to Central America in November and whatever doesn’t—goes in our giant “Yard Sale for Missions” this fall. As I listen to each boy struggle with what to “Keep” and what to “Yard Sale!” I have come to an obvious conclusion. We have issues with Stuff!
We are not unusual in this regard but it’s apparent to me that we have lots of stuff. Like a giant snowball rolling through life we tend to pick up things without even trying and before long, every available space we have is crammed with our “treasures”. Perhaps we think nothing of it or maybe somehow we think those things will truly bring us (or our kids) happiness. Either way, I wonder if we have more reason than most to be extra careful here, especially as Christians.
I think of this with the Parable of the Soils taught by Jesus (Luke 8:1-15). In the third scenario of the four Jesus gives about the “seed” of God’s Word hitting the “soil” of people’s hearts we see Satan will often “choke” us with the very stuff we fill our lives with. Jesus mentions three vices that Satan often uses to choke us spiritually and prevent maturity: worries, riches and pleasures.
“The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.”
All three vices are actually our choice to pursue or not. Now, I don’t think Jesus would get much push back from Christians today on the damaging effects of “worries”. However, in our society, I do think people would bristle with the vices of “riches and pleasures”. In a culture that says, “If you can, then you should”, Christians often do and without even pausing to challenging this notion. This verse haunts me because it makes me think that we’re actually tying our own spiritual noose every time we indiscriminately take in more and more treasures, riches and stuff to our homes.
This morning with our boys, I witnessed that there is undoubtedly a powerful attraction to our things and we have succumbed to it more than I care to admit but there is an up side to our experience as well. I was reminded that if we can let go of our grasp on many of our things, then we might find that we are also releasing ourselves in the process. In giving things up, we may even find another level of spiritual maturity and fruitfulness awaits us. So if you sense that there is stuff you possess in your house or your life that Satan is actually using to choke or suffocate you spiritually, then it may be time to let go of it and begin to experience a new kind of unhindered spiritual breathing because the reality is that spiritual growth often comes through the stuff we give up; not through the stuff we pick up.