{I am a Hoarder: A Confession}

I clutch at my stuff, even my money, as if it were mine. I live as if I cannot imagine losing it and yet fearful that I will.  

For many years I have wrestled with God’s promises about money, wishing to be more faithful but living as if I must take care of myself. I realized these things reading the book “Enough” by Will Davis Jr. over the fourth of July week.  And that I have an easy life, even what some would call a life of abundance not because I am overly spiritual, devoted or even worthy of this wealth, rather that I was born into a white, middle class family, in the United States of America. (I wrote about that in A 4th of July Ode to Power & Privilege.)

This begs the question of what I do with all that I have?  And pushing that self-knowledge further, how do I trust God to provide if I think that all that I have has been acquired by my privilege and is preserved by my hoarding?  And most importantly, can I continue to live in this way?

I suppose a part of accepting the idea of ENOUGH is acknowledging that I am a spiritual hoarder.  It’s an attitude, a heart issue, and a matter of trusting God (or not.)

The American Dream is the antitheses of ENOUGH.

The idea of having enough is unsatisfactory, perceived as weak and yet that is the challenge of this simple little book.  It asks, as followers of Christ how do we live counter to the American dream of providing “the very best of everything” for our children — home, education, trips, clothes, electronics, all this is striving after something empty.   And if we do continue to live in this way aren’t we living just like everyone else?  What is distinctive about being a follower of Christ, what should be, when it comes to our possessions and money?

Jesus promises that if we live to bless others we will find joy and hope. Davis suggests that our money isn’t ours, we’re entrusted to manage it, and if we look at our abundance as enough then we can be generous with our excess. Jesus taught, as does all of scripture, that we are to help the poor, widows and orphans. Why do my eyes glaze over when I read these words found hundreds of times in scripture?  I live like I believe that I don’t have enough to be more generous than I already am.

Reality check.

It seems to me, no matter how much money we make, we never have enough by the end of the month.  The more we make the more we spend.  The more we spend the less we have.  We’re caught in this trap of the deceitfulness of wealth, the idea that we always need more and the lie that we’d give more away if we only made more!  Although we pay our debts and other obligations, we save for retirement, we provide for our children, we give to the church and to missions, at the end of the month I am always left worrying about the next month’s debts, obligations,  and needs, … it is an endless cycle of stress and lack of trusting God. 

I wonder why Jesus prayed “give us this day our daily bread?” And why the Israelites only received Manna for the day with no left overs, no saving, no hoarding, why? And John said in 1 John 2:15-17 that “you cannot love the world and God at the same time.”

This book, Enough, poked holes in any fragile peace I have made with our money.  It shone the light of Jesus’ words through all my fragile lies, saying what you have is actually enough.  And if you trust God for today, you will find you have excess.

Your excess is a possible solution to someone else problem.  

My more than enough just might be someone else’s enough?! 

And living with more than enough, makes me believe that somehow that I acquired it, that I’m entitled to it, gives me a false sense of security in it, it distracts me, makes me hungry for more (Ecclesiastes 5:10), and makes me unappreciative of what I already have.  Somehow I did something to get all this.

Davis challenges us to see that if we see that we have enough, even more than enough, then we can ask how we can bless others.  This requires acknowledgment first, then slowing down, listening to God, asking what to do with all this abundance, praying for courage and wisdom and trusting that God is good.  God will always give us enough.

Jesus talked about the perils of wealth, not that it is wicked to be wealthy but that it is dangerous and difficult to sustain our faith and devotion.  Davis argues that we develop a false sense of security and entitlement, a stinginess, even a busyness with maintaining our stuff, which is alluring but dangerous.

As I read the words of scripture with new eyes, asking “what is enough?” I realized that not only do I have more than enough, but I am a hoarder in my heart of hearts.

This hit home the other day in a simple way.  I saw our neighbor’s daughter out on my trampoline, on the 107 degree day, with a friend. They had dragged a sprinkler over and were enjoying jumping in the cool air and water and I was angry.  I wanted her off my trampoline! As I examined my silly response, with this new lens of enough, I realized with a start that I was hoarding.  I cannot express exactly why it bothered me so much, because we’ve told her she’s welcome to use it.  I had this visceral MINE response and I realized in that moment that this is how I look at all my stuff. Protect at all costs as if it belongs to me.

  • A person that knows she has more than enough of everything would have been delighted that her trampoline was being enjoyed and her lawn watered at the same time.
  • A person that knows she has enough doesn’t need to buy things for entertainment or security or out of boredom.
  • A person that knows she has enough gives ten percent to the church at the beginning of the month and trusts, then lives carefully, even frugally knowing that all she has isn’t hers at all.
  • She looks for ways to be generous with her things, time and energy.
  • A person that knows she has more than enough trusts that is she has enough for today, to eat and wear, and that God will give for tomorrow.

This he has promised. This is the life of one who has enough, even more than enough, and knows it!

I challenge you to read this book with open hands and heart.  Be ready for many simple, practical ideas and scriptural proofs that all of us have more than enough.  The question is how will we respond?  Do we trust God to give us enough?  Do we hoard our things and our money as if we have to take care of ourselves?   Or can we accept that we have MORE THAN ENOUGH for the very reason that we might be someone else’s ENOUGH?

This little book is a fast read but if you take it in, if you scour scripture for the truth it contains, you will find that your heart is struck with its conviction.  I pray it is so.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, `What shall we eat?’ or `What shall we drink?’ or `What shall we wear?’ 

For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

A part of the Patheos Book Club on the book “ENOUGH: Finding More By Living with Less” by Will Davis Jr.

It doesn’t end there.  Enough, Continued.

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