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Hoarding Your Life

I watch the show hoarders, not because it matters to my life much, but mainly because it makes me feel better about my garage. My garage isn’t out of control, or even very dirty; but it isn’t quite organized either. When I watch hoarders however, it makes me feel like my garage is closer to resembling the lobby at the Skirvin Hotel in downtown Oklahoma City. It makes me feel like my house should be on cribs, and that my bathroom has quite possibly gone through a transformation from the extreme home makeover crew. It’s a total indulgence in perspective, and what’s worse is that I know it – but it’s working so it’s whatever. A strange thought occurred to me this morning reading through Matthew 10 however. When people hoard in life, it has the opposite effect on me. When I see someone chasing hard after the American dream, getting all their “bling”, 50,000 cars, and million dollar homes; for some reason it makes me feel inadequate. Like I am missing out on something wonderful, and that I am incomplete. It makes me feel that maybe I have missed the boat to a place I should be taking my family, and that the path we are on together is now the wrong path. It makes me feel like what I DO have and how I am living, isn’t much better than what the folks on hoarders have and do. So I wanted to press into today and just share some thoughts on hoarding and spending as it relates to life.

Matthew 10:32-33: “I too will acknowledge before my Father everyone who acknowledges me before men. I too will deny before my Father who is in heaven everyone who denies me before men.”

In our culture and thanks to technology there are many ways we can claim Christ. We post, tweet, and in some cases even wear our beliefs. It isn’t difficult to claim to follow Jesus in a way in which literally hundreds of people are aware of your claim, in an instant. Some of us don’t even put much thought into it. We blog about Jesus, wear one of those ridiculous “Christian” t-shirts (that make everyone but you feel all icky inside btw), we tweet about Him, we may even tell the people we know what we believe with our words too. For as many ways as there are that we can claim to follow Jesus, there are just as many ways in which we can deny Jesus too however.

We can deny Him with words, which is the most obvious of course – but what about our silence? Someone once said “Ones whole life can be made a misery by the menace of things unsaid”. Again and again we are afforded the opportunity to speak some word for our Lord, utter some protest against evil, to draw a sharp distinction to alert everyone as to which side we have taken…….and again and again on such occasions it is easier to keep silence than to speak. That form of silence is in a very real sense a denial of Jesus. It is very probably true that far more people deny Jesus with their cowardly silence than their deliberate words.

How about our actions? We can easily live in such a way (and all of us at times do) that our life is a continuous denial of the faith in which we profess. Someone who has proclaimed allegiance to the gospel of Jesus Christ may be guilty of all kinds of petty dishonesties, and departures from something honorable. The one who claims to follow the same Jesus that has asked you to take up a cross, can very easily live a life which is completely dominated by it’s attention to your own comfort and ease. One who claims to follow the same Jesus Christ who forgives all without discretion, can walk out a life filled with bitterness and resentment and enmity with his neighbors and friends. But this isn’t even the controversial part of what we he is saying. What is alarming most about this passage is what He says next:

Matthew 10:34-39 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

Nowhere else in scripture is the sheer honesty of Jesus more vividly displayed than it is here. He sets the Christian call at it’s most demanding and most uncompromising, but with a promise. He tells us exactly what to expect if we are to be followers and messengers of the King, and while doing so offers us 4 things.

1. He offers us warfare. When we see some great cause emerge it is always bound to divide people. There are bound to be people who answer, and refuse the challenge. To be confronted with Jesus is necessarily to be confronted with the choice whether to accept or reject Him. The world is always divided into those who have accepted Jesus and His gospel, and those who have not. The thing that makes the particular kind of warfare He talks about here a tough pill to swallow, is that the warfare and an individuals foes would be those inside his or hers own house. True enough it is very seldom that anyone is confronted with the choice, but the fact remains that it is possible for your loved ones to become your enemies if you take the gift of family and elevate them above the giver.

2. He offers us a choice. Again, although very seldom, sometimes one has to choose between the closest ties here on earth and loyalty to Jesus. It’s a terrible choice, and one that may never come to you, but the fact remains that all loyalties must give way to our loyalty to Jesus if we are going to claim to more than just believers, but actual followers of Jesus.

3. Jesus offers us the cross. Now it’s getting even worse! His audience upon hearing this well knew what He meant by this. The people listening to this had seen people staggering under the weight of their crosses and dying in agony upon them. In essence He is offering us death, and a cruel one at that. Mmmmmmm delicious. How insane must one be to accept the call of disciple of Jesus if this is the offering we get as a result? Yet the fact remains that the men that heard this knew well what they were signing up for and chose to follow Him despite this. When one of the fathers of our faith, John Bunyan, was brought before the council that would hang him, he made this appeal:

“Sirs, the law of Christ hath provided two ways of obeying: The one to do that which I in my conscience do believe that I am bound to do, actively; and where I cannot obey it actively, there I am willing to lie down and to suffer what they shall do unto me.”

Wow. We may have to sacrifice personal ambition, the ease and comfort that we have otherwise enjoyed, the career that we might have achieved, we may have to lay down our dreams, all to realize those “shiny things” that we once had caught a glimpse of were not for us. We have now been paid for, and our will is no longer our own. In Christianity there is most certainly always some cross.

4. Lastly, He offered them adventure. This is the promise that comes as a result of all the previous mentioned. He makes it clear that the one who finds his own life will eventually lose it all, but the one who loses his life now will find true life. A better life, in the most literal way. You can hoard life, if you wish to do so. You can chase after ease, comfort, security, personal ambition and you may well get all these things; but it wont make you fulfilled. You were sent into this world to serve God, and your fellow men and women. If you hoard your life you will lose all that makes life valuable to others, and worth living for yourself. Instead, Jesus is asking you to spend your life. The way to serve others, the way to fulfill God’s purpose for you, the way to true happiness is to spend your life. That is the only way we will find true life, we must lose our own.

So I had the thought: If I am living my life just for what I want for me and my family, and what makes me happy – am I now less crazy than the people on that show that live in a house filled with trash and 50 cats? It’s only because of what I know about who I am that this question can be answered. Because I have been bought and paid for – and am no longer my own – the reality is that I am to be busy in the business of spending my life, not hoarding it. Does that mean it’s not ok to have nice things? Of course not! It does mean that if those things are idols that I worship instead of our Lord God, that I am no different from someone who “forgets” to remove trash from inside their home…..for 10 consecutive years.

When I read this today it gave me a much better, and MUCH less indulgent perspective and I thought I’d share it. Read it for yourself this week and pray through it – and see where you could start spending more of your life, and maybe even more importantly where you could stand to lose some of it. The reality is that we own nothing. Our homes, bank accounts, families, cars, and gadgets are all own loan and gifts. It is all the Lord’s stuff and we are stewards of it. How we steward His stuff is a thing that matters greatly in the kingdom.

Parting thought from a special prayer that was composed for the Lambeth Conference of 1948:

“Almighty God, give us grace to be not only hearers, but doers of Thy Holy word, not only to admire, but to obey thy doctrine, not only to profess, but to practice Thy religion, not only to love, but to live Thy gospel. So grant that what we learn of Thy glory we may receive into our hearts, and show forth in our lives: through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

p.s. don’t forget to take the trash out J

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