This year I started watching a few new reality shows on television.
A show called Pickers documents the adventures of a couple of antique merchants. The guys travel the country in search of collectibles they can buy and resell at a profit. Sometimes their manager leads them to a potential seller. But I’ve also seen them just walk up to a house with a barn and ask if they can look around for stuff to buy. They end up rummaging through all kinds of junk in their quest for unique items. It’s amazing to see just how much stuff some people have. One episode featured a guy with a three story building packed full of collectibles.
I am most intrigued by the reluctant sellers. The pickers will occasionally run across someone who just doesn’t want to part with anything, despite being offered a fair price. I don’t quite understand this—why would someone turn down cash for something that is just collecting dust in a forgotten corner of a barn? I don’t get it.
Another show takes things to a completely different level. Hoarders documents the lives of people suffering from a specific mental health disorder known as compulsive hoarding. This illness compels them to fill their homes with anything you can imagine—from collectibles to garbage. Even those who accept intervention are often resistant to throw anything away.
I want to make something clear before I go any further: I have nothing but sympathy for those who suffer from mental illness. I don’t judge them any more than I would judge someone for having cancer. Mental illness, in fact, often has a medical/chemical component to it.
But both of these shows cause me to think about our tendency to put too much emphasis on material possessions—even if we don’t do so in a pathological way.
|The Joy of Moving|
This most recent move has caused me to think about this issue all over again. I often reflect on it when I pack my suitcase, but moving to a new place is a lot more intense.
My goal was to be able to move everything I owned in just one trip, so I downsized. I sold (or gave away) a few bulky items in the weeks leading up to the transfer. It’s a good thing I did—there wasn’t much room left in the moving truck once we had all my stuff packed.
I remember inspecting the truck before they closed the doors. “Do I really need all this stuff?” I asked myself. I guess I do—so far I haven’t unpacked anything and wondered why I brought it. But I’ve been reminded once again of Jesus’ warning:
Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”
Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” 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.”
And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’
“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’
“This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.” -Luke 12:13-21
Lord, I thank you for every material blessing you’ve given me. I also thank you for reminding me to keep them in their proper perspective.
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