Lent, Spiritual Disciplines

Confessions of a Hoarder

I tossed another heavily loaded black trash bag onto the pile and frowned. The stacks on both sides had been steadily mounting every since I’d begun packing for my move and I was beginning to feel convicted about both the things that I was donating and those that I was tossing into the garbage. Perhaps it wasn’t so much the things in themselves as the quantity. I was only half way through and a good 50% of what I affectionately referred to as “my junk” was no longer mine.

Some of the stuff was good (I wouldn’t have donated it otherwise), like the size 14 pants that no longer fit. I had justified hanging onto them as an act of “frugality” – after all, I’d never have to buy a pair in that size again. Never mind that I’d never need a pair in that size again.

Some of the stuff was useless, like the 25 pair of 3D glasses. If I had to pay extra to get into a 3D movie, I was certainly going to keep all of the accessories. Besides, these were an “investment” – someday, they’d be worth something.

Some of the stuff was downright awful, like the broken bits of toys that had long ago been discarded, deformed paper clips, and nails that could become useful if I took the time to bend them back into shape.

As I envisioned charity shops and landfills steadily filling up with my “collections”, I was absolutely certain of one thing: it was all too much. My intention in forming the stash had not been a bad or unbiblical one. I wasn’t “storing up treasures” in the sense in which Jesus spoke. (Matthew 6:19-21) My goal wasn’t to have “stuff” simply for “stuff’s” sake. But unbiblical intent or not, the result was a negative one. Over the years, I had collected so much that I now had to dispose of much of it in order to make the move to the mission field.

I found myself reminded of the words of Scripture: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1,2)

The Apostle knew that sin wasn’t the only thing with the power to hinder God’s people and that is why, for nearly 2,000 years now, the Church has observed the season of Lent. It isn’t simply about giving up sin (though that is a good thing), but about taking the time to carefully examine our lives. It’s about looking at our schedules and our priorities and determining whether they contribute to our spiritual health or prevent us from running the race as we should. Like me with my closets, drawers, and shelves, we often find that what we’ve been “collecting” isn’t as much use as we thought it would be.

This week, take the time to consider you routine. Examine your habits. Take a look at the things with which you fill your hours. Then make the commitment to discard everything that stands between you and your ability to effectively follow God’s call!

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Devotions, Retail Ready

You Can’t Even Give It Away!

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Read: Matthew 28:18-20

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 12:1-2

Some people seem to be sent into our lives simply to test us and, on this particular afternoon, I found just such a person standing nearby as I worked to sign people up for our store’s discount card.

After listening to several customers tell me that they weren’t interested, he turned around and declared quite adamantly, “You can’t even give those away!”

I smiled and said that I was giving them away to which he responded with a piteous smile.

After I had been told “no” several more times, he turned and said something to the effect of, “Guess they don’t know what a great deal they’re missing.” (At this point, I could feel myself growing irritated at his mockery.)

No, no, no, no… “So how many hours do you have to do this?” he asked with a delighted grin.

Resisting the urge to let him have it, I relaxed in my seat and continued my work. The truth was, despite his derision, I was ten memberships short of averaging one for every three minutes of the entire six hour period in which I had been working! The results of my efforts had been nothing short of phenomenal and the choice was now mine – to focus on the negative and give up or to see the success which had been achieved and finish the task.

As believers in Christ, we often face very similar situations and it can be difficult to keep our focus, particularly when people are making fun of us or deriding what we believe. And that’s why the Bible tells us to keep our eyes on Christ. Only by making Jesus the center of our lives at all times will we be able to stay on the path He has prepared for us and accomplish the task which He has given us – that of sharing the Gospel with sinners like ourselves!

Challenge: This week, commit to keep your focus on Christ and finish the task!

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