Possessions define us

Luke 12:15

I live in a gated senior living community. Living here I get to see a lot of interesting people and attitudes. What amazes me the most is people’s security from the amount of stuff they have.

There are people living here who would make good contestants on the TV show Hoarders. We live in small apartments that are around 650 square feet. Now I know that is not very big but it is extremely adequate. What amazes me is when I see an apartment that literally has a walk path barely wide enough to traverse, surrounded by boxes and piles of stuff stacked wall to wall. You have a walk path that meanders from room to room, with only one chair or so uncovered enough to sit in.

I have seen these people die and their family has to come empty the apartment and get rid of the accumulation of “junk”. There sometimes are a few treasures, but most often the family simply hauls the stuff off to a Thrift/Resale shop and donates the entire contents to whatever charity runs the store.

“It seems an inescapable fact of modern life that we learn, define, and remind ourselves of who we are by our possessions… we seek to express ourselves through possessions and use material possessions to seek happiness, remind ourselves of experiences, accomplishments, and other people in our lives, and even create a sense of immortality after death. Our accumulation of possessions provides a sense of past and tells us who we are, where we have come from, and perhaps where we are going.” (Belk  “Possessions and the Extended Self.”  The Journal of Consumer Research)

Unfortunately, far too often, our kids and grandkids do not value the sentimental things we have so carefully collected and held on to. The treasures we surrounded ourselves with are quickly hauled off to the resale shops or the junk piles.

Some are hoarding money. (not my problem unfortunately!) Those have enough money saved back to live to 150 years old. Yet they worry, scrimp and save to the point they are unhappy about their financial status on a daily basis. These individuals will not willingly pay for help they desperately need unless they can get insurance, social security, or some form of government assistance. They worry every penny. Yet when they die, they leave it all.

About 14 years ago, I felt God was leading me to simplify my life. We moved from a 2100 foot home, to a 900 ft home. Then we moved to a 240 foot trailer. Talk about purging stuff! And I have never been happier. Sometimes I long for the life in the trailer. Talk about minimalist. But during those years, contentment was derived from family relationships and time together. Makes me remember one weekend when we had 9 kids and grandkids in that 240 square feet space!

Today, I have too much stuff in my apartment, but much of it is toys for the grandkids. Every time I have to clean up the floor for the toys that have ben scattered, I threaten to minimalize them!

Our satisfaction should be in our relationship with God. In life priority is given either to God or it is given to material things. Jesus said, “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” (Luke 16:13) Mammon is a word that means “riches” or “treasure.” It is also used as a word for “money.” Often, mammon is regarded as material wealth and it is thought to have an evil influence.


Christians must never allow their possessions to possess them. It is frightening when we realize how many are actually controlled by a desire for things. This desire is covetousness. Jesus said, “Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” (Luke 12:15)



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