The Joy of Stuff
I read the story in "The Christian Century" last spring. The author and her husband held three teacups in their hands after the husband's mother downsized and moved to a smaller apartment. The couple talked about which items to keep, if any, or whether they should keep all three in a home that was already full of things. The question they asked about each item was, "Does this item spark joy?"
The writer said she got this concept from Marie Kondo who's written extensively about de-cluttering one's life. Kondo says that if an item doesn't spark joy it should be sold or given to another person for whom it would spark joy.
An interesting corollary to this method is that Kondo suggests we even talk to the item we're about to discard, thank it for this joy and wish it well in its new place!
I'm not sure our friends would consider us sane if they came to our home and found us talking to the drapery and the silverware, but the basic premise is a good one. We express thanks for the things that bring joy to our lives.
I read the Apostle Paul's words with new appreciation this week:
"Let [us] place confidence in God, who lavishly provides us with everything for our enjoyment" (1Timothy 6:17).
The above-cited verse is addressed to "the rich." Readers might deny this descriptor, but we are rich. By the grace of God we're Americans living in a land of plenty. The Global Village at Habitat for Humanity's International Head-
quarters in Americus, Ga. has actual housing from the third world--housing we wouldn't use for our dogs or lawnmowers in America. We are all wealthy.
And scripture affirms the concept that God is a lavish giver of things. He's not a killjoy; he wants us to enjoy possessions. Accordingly, some find joy in coins or stamps, salt shakers or ceramic frogs, political items or books. These things spark joy. And part of our reason for worship is to thank God for the joy we find in things.
But scripture also affirms that we must handle things responsibly by remembering the needs of others around us. Scripture pointedly asserts that if we have goods and see a brother without goods and don't share, the love of God is absent our hearts (1 John 3:17).
Ultimately we'll stand before God to give account of our use of every opportunity and every possession. John the revelator said both "small and great" will stand before the Lord of the universe. The small is you and me. The great is the Kennedys, the Rockefellers and Bill Gates. God will hold us accountable for how we used our possessions.
Reflections is a weekly devotional column written by Michael J. Brooks, pastor of the Siluria Baptist Church in Alabaster, Ala., and adjunct instructor of speech at Jefferson State Community College, Hoover. Permission is granted to use this material with attribution.