As I was reading my Bible, I came across this passage in 1 John that got me thinking…
Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.
1 John 2:15-17
As I seek to minimize my life, I am constantly amazed by how much I notice advertising and the pull it has on me. There is something deep within me that seems to want to possess everything. Yet, there is something greater within me that wants to let go. It’s almost like a constant battle in my soul.
Our culture is one of excess. Constantly, we are being told we need more, better, and bigger stuff. One might say it is natural for me to want to possess things, but it’s not.
I’m not saying that it’s bad to have stuff. Stuff is not bad. But that craving to have stuff… that’s where it gets bad. That is when discontent and sin start to seep in.
And during the Christmas season, it can be incredibly easy to feel the need to possess.
Advertising is in full swing right now, fancy lighting and packaging makes everything look pretty and somehow better than normal, and saying “look what I got” seems to be the new sport.
But that love of stuff… that love of possessions… that isn’t from God.
So when the advertising starts to draw me in and I begin wanting all the things, I remind myself of what I am gaining by saying no.
God wants me to have a good and full life. He wants me to have a happy life. But He doesn’t want that goodness, fullness, and happiness to come from the stuff of the world. Society teaches me to crave all the things I see at stores and on television, but God teaches me to crave Him. Society teaches me to fill my life with more things, but God teaches me to fill my life with Him.
The more I let go of, the more I realize how filling God’s presence really is.
The more I say no to society, the more I say yes to God.
You might be thinking that I must have just stopped every bit of shopping that I do, but I haven’t. Like I said earlier, this is a constant battle. What I have done, though, is I’ve started thinking about stuff in a new way.
I ask why do I want things.
I ask what I will use them for.
I ask who I am trying to impress.
If I want things just because some advertising made it look cool, and if I have no real use for the things, and if I feel like I just want to impress people with the things, then the things aren’t something I need to be purchasing.
The Bible says that the world offers us a craving for pride in our possessions. The world sends us the message that we need to be out there shouting, “Hey, look at me! Look at what I have now! Look at these amazing things that I am getting!”
While it is natural to want to share new things with people, there comes a point where the stuff and the sharing crosses a line. When we start to love the stuff and love the showing off of the stuff more than we love the God who made it possible for us to have stuff… that’s when we’ve got a problem.
And that’s what really hit me in 1 John 2:15-17. All the stuff we have doesn’t last. It fades away. We buy things and they are new and shiny and interesting for only a short time, but then we stop caring. And then other people stop caring. And then we go get something else that is new and shiny and we start the process over.
But if we stop looking to stuff for the fulfillment we seek, and start looking to God… that is when we find something that lasts forever.
For me, I have to minimize to keep my head in the right spot. Minimizing helps me to see God more clearly, and I’m sure He knows that about me. So when I start to get a craving for possessions just because they look neat, I’ll be thinking about these words in 1 John and reminding myself of what really matters.