I have hoarding tendencies. There, I admit it. My wife has been trying to point this out to me over the years, but I have deflected her comments and defended my actions with statements like “you never know when that will come back in style,” or “I may need that for something.” One day she decided to inventory my baseball hats and asked, “Why do you need more than 30 baseball hats?” Fair question. I tried to explain that some are for summer, others for winter, some for watching Auburn games, and others for travel. Besides, I should wear a hat to protect my head against skin cancer. “You don’t want me to get skin cancer, do you?” Of course not, but 35 hats? The truth is, I tend to hold onto things for a long time. Far too long. So lately, I have wrestled with why I have this tendency? Do I fear not having enough? Did my parents’ stories of the hardship of their early childhood during the great depression impact me as a child? Or is it simply a byproduct of my own selfishness and the consumption culture of our day? After doing some self-reflection, I have come to the conclusion that I must find a comfort or sense of security in holding onto things. Jesus warns us against feeding these tendencies in a familiar passage from the Sermon On The Mount:
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, (the word for unhealthy is translated “greedy” elsewhere in the New Testament) your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money (literally mammon, or things). (Matthew 6:19-24 NIV)
Since I have begun to ask the “why” question more often, it has helped me to recognize my tendency to hold on to things. My wife is also helping me to get rid of something every time I get something new. I am getting better at giving away and letting go. While this may seem like a silly concern, I know that Jesus warns us to be on the lookout for greed.
Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” (Luke 12:15 NIV)
He would have said to watch out and be your guard if it was something obvious.
I do not want my heart tied too closely to things when my greatest treasure is Christ and my family is next. I know that it is hard for us to see greed or materialism in the mirror. I would have never admitted that I have the tendency to hoard if my wife had not taken an inventory. While I am not there yet, I am making progress…. (My hat collection now stands at 22!)
Yours in Christ,