The Great Purge

Hi. My name is John and I’m a recovering hoarder. Notice, I said recoverING, not recoverED. Many times, when you grow up with less, you hold on to everything you have as a precious possession. You can’t afford to replace things, so you don’t throw anything away. At its base, that doesn’t sound horrible. Waste not, want not, right?  Unfortunately, that can go awry quickly, and before long, you have a house filled with useless stuff that you refuse to throw away. You end up renting a storage unit for stuff you haven’t used in fifteen years, and you may never use again. Your closets and attic are full of junk, and eventually, you start seeing these “doom piles” forming around the house. You know you should donate this stuff to Goodwill, the local homeless shelter, or a clothing closet, but it never goes anywhere.

What do you do with all this stuff? All week, we’ve been talking about simplicity. We’ve said that we need to live within our means. We need to be better stewards of our time and not feel like we need to fill every hour of our schedule. Today, we’re focusing on getting our house in order through purging things. One of my favorite commercials right now is from Progressive Insurance. Dr. Rick is trying to help new homeowners not become their parents by throwing away things they’re keeping for no reason. One woman is throwing away tissue box covers, another man is throwing away random pieces of crown molding, and yet another is throwing away floor mats that fit a vehicle he doesn’t own anymore. The commercial ends with a woman stating, “Empty tubs of butter are for recycling, not for my leftovers.” 

We all hold on to things. We have a fear that, if we get rid of this item, we’ll end up needing it later, when the truth is….we won’t. As we saw yesterday with the Israelites gathering manna, holding on to extra only led to rot and worms. What else does the Bible say about this?

And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?”
Matthew 19:16–20

Jesus is teaching when this young guy comes up wanting to know how to earn his way to Heaven. Jesus’ answer didn’t seem to satisfy this guy, so he asks what else can he do. The answer he gets here isn’t what he was expecting.

 Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.  And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”
Matthew 19:21–24

When “things” become so important that we can’t let go of them, we need to step back and take inventory of what’s most important. We need to ask the question, “Why do I need this so badly?” For many of us, we’ll say things like, “I don’t want to be wasteful.” or “I may need this in the future.” The reality is we’re creeping toward idolatry. When we struggle to let go of old butter tubs and pieces of crown molding that won’t match any house in our neighborhood, then we are placing an undue amount of value on something that doesn’t deserve it. Why is it so hard to let go? That’s a heart issue.

“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
Matthew 6:24

When giving something away or throwing something away brings anxiety, then those things have mastery over you. The only person who should have mastery over you is God. Nothing else. Not your possessions, not your schedule, and not your career. When anything gets that high of a standing in your life, you’re treading on rough waters. God doesn’t share His spot. It’s His, or it’s not. He doesn’t do middle ground. As his children, we need to understand that we receive nothing from those things, but we receive everything from God.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
Ephesians 1:3–10

As much as it may pain you to do, it may be time to start purging your house of all the things that you’re holding on to. Simplicity says, “If I don’t use it or need it, I need to let it go.” This isn’t about house cleaning, it’s about heart cleaning. Stuff will never bring you happiness, and clutter almost always brings chaos. Let’s remove the chaos and find our happiness in Christ alone. It’s time to start the great purge.

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