The idea of “stuff” has received a bad rap over the last few years with the growing simplicity movement. There has been a strong pull towards getting rid of everything so you have more freedom, fulfillment, and time for more important things. Cut back on lifestyle, live smaller, enjoy less. Many of these principles have inspired our lifestyle choices as well. But should I get rid of everything? Does it require me to sell everything and live in a tiny apartment in order to really pursue this lifestyle of simplicity?
I believe it’s time to get a God-centered view of stuff. We need a bit more balance.
Why has God given us this stuff? God is the giver of all good things. James 1:17, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” He has provided us with resources, a home, and the stuff within to be used for the purpose of serving others. God gives us all things to enjoy but desires us to use them for the furtherance of His glory and kingdom.
Ephesians 4:28 reminds us: “He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.” It’s a call to work hard. Why? So we have something to share. It’s not just for us…it’s given to provide for our basic needs and to be shared with others in need. Alls we truly need is food, clothing, and shelter. And every other thing should be purchased with intentionality. We could simply give it away once, but there is a way I believe we can use many of the items in our homes to bless others over and over again.
Luke 3:11, ‘John answered, “The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same.”
Becoming a Sharing Community
Certainly simplifying will include getting rid of some things, but other things should be dedicated to a sharing category. I love reading about the early church’s passion for sharing. “They were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common…there was not a needy person among them…” (Acts 4:32, 34). This model of sharing and caring for one another was a powerful witness to a watching world around them of the love of Christ in action. This can certainly include selling things and sharing the profits with those in the community of believers that have needs…but it can also include simply making our resources available to one another through loaning, borrowing, exchanging.
What might this look like?
- Passing around your children’s clothing.
- Loaning out your maternity ware between your use (We store all our clothes – maternity and children’s clothing, in large plastic totes according to size and gender, so it is easy to loan out a tote as another has need of a particular size and category.)
- Sharing your baby items in between your use. A bassinet is only in use for 6 months or so…why not loan it to another new family? It clears out space in your home until you need it again.
- Holding a book library to share the rich treasures of books you have with others. Make a master list of all your books and pass it around to others for their reference.
- Sharing your homeschool curriculum. Some of these materials are super expensive. Why not loan it to another family while you aren’t using it.
- Loaning out your extra car or bedroom to missionaries or needy members of your church.
- Host a clothing exchange, community garage sale, homemade food goods exchange, and exchange items for free.
- Making a double batch of your dinner and sharing with a family that has just had a baby or experiencing a different trial.
- Share a skill you have by teaching it to others.
- Hold a work party to help someone move or get a job done around their house.
- Open up the doors of your home in hospitality.
Your home, however big or small, is a gift to be used to bless the lives of others through your hospitality. I like to call it missional homemaking...everything you own is held loosely because it’s on a mission. A mission to comfort, nourish and support those that God sends your way. It needs to be held loosely because it may get damaged or broken along the way.
Your carpet may be stained, your toys may be broken. But if you have a God centered view of stuff you will be able to rejoice because it was used for the furtherance of His Kingdom. Having a descent size home is very beneficial for the extension of hospitality. We intentionally bought the biggest house we could reasonably afford. We picked a house that had small bedrooms and a large living space. Because we wanted to make it available for the use of others. We wanted to be able to welcome crowds of people to find refreshment through our doors. Every time you open your door you are sharing the love of Christ to a watching world.
Our basement is set up for hosting worship practice, our living room is open enough to sit larger groups for community group, leadership meetings, dinner parties, church events and so much more. We had several parties last year where over 100 people passed through our doors in a 3 hr period. Praise God! Hospitality is so much fun! Even in our small first home of a condo, we didn’t make the small space an excuse. We filled up that small space with only that which was useful for hospitality and filled it over capacity with people. It was often tight with people but sweetly intimate for the joy and laughter shared with others.
What to get rid of?
God centered simplifying is letting go of anything that is ruling in my heart. What am I afraid might be damaged? That might be a clue to an idol in my heart. Pray that God would change your heart and give you the grace to offer up your stuff for his use and purposes. If it is not beneficial for the use of others, then it can be discarded. Dedicate your earthly goods to his Kingdom use and see Him work. A God centered simplifying lifestyle is letting go of the stuff that’s just cluttering my life (that hasn’t practically served our family or others in the last 6 months) but preserving the stuff that is useful in the ministry to others.
We buy descent furniture but not expensive stuff that I would be afraid to have damaged, scratched, or broken. Yes, it has certainly seen some wear and tear. We buy consignment clothes so I’m not afraid if someone returns our borrowed collection and a few items are stained. We buy used reliable cars that can be loaned out as a brother has need.
We sift out the stuff that is not useful. Is it serving to strengthen our family or be used in service to others? If not, get rid of it!
Make sure everything you buy has a purpose outside yourself! Invest in a few items that will help extend your hospitality: A large crockpot to serve large gatherings? Serving forks, trays, large water pitchers, outside bikes for kids to play with, etc. When we were newly married without kids, we still wanted to reach out to families in our church. An older family in the church gave us a random assortment of small toys that they had cleared out of their inventory. This box was a huge help in assisting to make our hospitality so much more enjoyable for the little ones. This is a beautiful mix of simplifying but sharing going on.
I have learned in this pursuit of simplifying and sharing…the more I share and let go of, the more my heart desires to give. The more we give and share, the greater our treasure is being stored up in heaven, and the less of a stronghold this stuff has in our hearts. When I see everything I own as simply a tool through which I can bless another, it no longer worries me to see it damaged or ruined. And God is glorified as He takes the place of our all-consuming love, rather than it being in anything temporary in this world. Giving and sharing is the greatest investment of your resources!