I’m a collector. I love to collect things. I have collections of books, Precious Moments, horse figurines, crosses, and dishes. On my computer, I have collections of photos, books, essays that I have written. I am a collector, but I am not a hoarder. I do get rid of things on occasion.
But a few years ago I was dating someone who challenged my view of my collections. He thought that I clung to my collections. He believed that I put more importance on the things that I owned than I did on people and relationships. He didn’t believe that I could let go of my things.
Well, all of that challenged me to a long and hard look at the value that I place on material things in my life. I started questioning myself:
Am I able to sell these things or give them away?
Do I place more value on material things that I do people and relationships?
Do I cling to these things as substitutes or reminders of my dreams?
When I took a look, I decided that I didn’t like all of the answers. I discovered that while I truly don’t value material things above people, I do cling to these things and have a hard time letting go of them.
When I realized this, a change began to take place in my heart and the Lord used it to start a refining process in my heart.
For a little while I went to the opposite extreme. I decided to get rid of everything. I had a yard sale where I put everything but what I absolutely needed on sale. Then I began selling my books and my Precious Moments on the Amazon marketplace. If it wasn’t absolutely necessary, I was getting rid of it.
Of course, I didn’t actually manage to sell all of that stuff although I did get rid of a lot.
But I learned a couple of valuable lessons:
Stuff is just stuff. The only real value it has is what we give to it.
When I let go of my desire to have more stuff, then God can begin to refine me.
We are designed to want more, specifically more of the Lord, but many times we substitute that need for more of Him with material things. We search for our identity in the things of the world and begin to define ourselves by the world’s definition of success. And the world says that if you are successful then you have things like fancy cars, the latest technological advances, and big houses.
But when the Lord began this process of refining me, He started showing me that I don’t have to have all of those things to be successful. He started peeling back the layers of excess to present to me a new vision of who I am and how I should define success.
Now when I plan on getting rid of things at home or going shopping, I have started asking myself these questions:
- Do I need it?
- Do I love it?
- If someone saw it and wanted it, could I give it to them willingly?
- Can the money that I spend on this item be better spent somewhere else?
I define success not by what I have, but by what I am willing to give. Success is not about having more. It is about giving more.
I challenge you to let go of the materialism in your life, and let God begin to refine you.