Our Problem with "Stuff"
I will never forget entering the new year of 2019. It was the day Marie Kondo entered my life. Netflix released her show “Tidying Up” on January 1st, and for the next month, I was determined to KonMari my house. I cleaned out every drawer, closet, and room in my house, figuring out if the things I possessed “sparked joy” [aka — do I still need/use this or can I donate it] and loaded up my car with bags upon bags of donations to the Salvation Army. That morning, the wait to drop donations off at the Salvation Army was over an hour. Apparently, everyone else was on the KonMari plan too. At that moment, it became very clear to me that we, as a collective people, have a “stuff” problem.
Now, fast forward two years, and my house is back to being filled with a bunch of stuff. Clothes I don’t wear, things I don’t use, the list can go on and on. I purge but then just replace with more. Now, I understand the value of replacing items that no longer work or buying necessities, but that makes up about 5% of my purge-and-replace cycle. I’m living as if what I have isn’t enough.
Can you relate?
If you can’t, I tip my hat off to you, my minimalist friend! But for most of us, this cycle of materialistic consumption consumes us. We keep striving to have the next best thing. We buy into the lie that “MORE” is better; it will fulfill us. But the truth is, all this “stuff” is temporary. We can’t take it with us when we die. Pastor Billy Creech worded it this way, “You don’t see U-hauls as part of the funeral procession.”
Materialism is as much of a struggle today as ever before. We live in a culture where we are pushed to work harder so we can obtain more, always striving for the next latest and greatest thing. Why? Because we believe the lie, that satisfaction comes from things. But true satisfaction comes from something so much greater than anything we could ever purchase.
The book of Ecclesiastes is filled with what I would call “truths” that aren’t really true. The author’s reflections unmask the myth that the meaning of life is something we create or can find in things — the wrong places. And by trying to find meaning within ourselves or things, we are left even more empty, wondering why it’s never enough.
Ecclesiastes 5:10 says, “He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this is also vanity.”
When I read this verse, it’s so descriptive of our culture, it feels as if the writer of Ecclesiastes was looking into the future. That he could see into our homes, our storage rooms, and see “stuff” overflowing from every corner of our lives. And seeing all of this, he writes, “it’s vanity” and “it will never satisfy.”
But as we begin to compare the truths of the world against the Truth found in Scripture, we see that our culture’s truth fails in comparison — true satisfaction and meaning only comes from God. No matter how much we buy, own, or invest in, it will never complete us. It will never give us purpose. The pursuit of materialism will leave you with an identity that is only as strong as the latest trend, leaving you thirsting for more.
In Luke 12:16–21, Jesus tells the Parable of the Rich Fool. He illustrates the life of a man who’s quite satisfied with his wealth (his “more”). Everything this man has done and the decisions he’s made revolve around fulfilling his own desires. Then he says to his soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.” In other words, having filled his life to the brim with earthly treasures, he thought he’d spend the rest of his days in blissful satisfaction.
What did God have to say to this man’s “truth” about worldly possessions?
But God said to him, “Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?” So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God. — Luke 12:20–21
The point is clear. From a heavenly, eternal perspective, searching for satisfaction in the riches — the things — this world has to offer makes you a fool!
But Godly satisfaction fulfills us. It fulfills us because instead of relying on ourselves, we rest in God’s provision and His Word in our lives. It shifts the focus from ourselves and what we can acquire to our Creator, the one who gives us everything we could ever need. If you
So, let’s break the cycle. Rejecting the lie of materialism, we’ve allowed to masquerade as “truth” in our hearts for so long. And grab hold of the only type of wealth that ever mattered: being rich toward God.