Many possessions, little peace

One of the big shocks, when people move into smaller homes, and find they need to downsize, is the realisation of the amount of stuff they have accumulated over the years.

“How on earth did we manage to collect so much?” people wonder.

Some United States anthropologists have been examining the stuff that fills American homes. Even in small houses they found an average of 39 pairs of shoes, 90 DVDS or videos, 139 toys, 212 CDS, and 438 books and magazines

Nine out of ten families have so many things that they keep some household stuff in the garage. And three quarters of them have so much stuff in the garages, there is no room left for cars.

The anthropologists call this a “clutter crisis.” One scholar calls it “stuffocation,” which he defines as “suffocating under too much stuff.” Moreover, the overgrowth of clutter is not solely an American phenomenon. It seems the average British woman “buys 59 items of clothing each year, she has twice as many things in her wardrobe today as she did in 1980, and she has 22 things in there she has never worn.”

How can we reduce our yearnings, especially when they seem to consume so much of our earnings?

How can we move past our insatiable cravings towards obtaining a genuine contentment?

The Bible resounds with encouragement for us to work hard to obtain what we need, and to avoid the trap of believing that money or things will make us content.

“Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income” (Ecclesiastes 5:10).

Jesus talks about the same thing in terms of peace. He says the calm we long for doesn’t come from possessions, but from Him.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27).

A survey of 30,000 American households found that those who donate to charity are 43 percent more likely than non-givers to say they are “very happy.”

The real-life experience of many generous people fits with the famous insight of Jesus that it is “more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).

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