How to Think About Our Stuff

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In the last few weeks I have written extensively on hospitality. Since part of hospitality is sharing our stuff with others, I am trying to make sense of how I should think about my belongings. We can’t do without possessions—we need at least food and clothing—but how much is too much? Here are some thoughts.

For us, this became relevant when we decided to look at a new car. Having driven a minivan for years—and being acutely aware of its limitations—we started looking at SUVs. We love the mountains, especially in the winter, and a minivan just doesn’t cut it. But given our fairly large family, we would need an equally big SUV to fit passenger and pack, and that gets expensive quickly. Is it worth spending more money on a car than we ever have to make more family trips off the beaten path? I won’t bore you with the details of this decision, but the process included listing the intangible benefits as they relate to God’s glory, like exploring God’s creation together, building stronger relationships within our family, and creating fun memories.

I realized that I can use the same thought process to evaluate my other belongings. Ideally, I will be able to point at any object in my house and somehow relate it to something eternal.1 For example, sitting in our family room right now, I see several musical instruments. We use them to teach our kids about music, to praise God in song together as a family, and for our enjoyment of music in general, usually as a family. I see our “tea corner”—a wet-bar-turned-tea-shop—for our own use and to offer refreshments to guests. I see a kitchen table bigger than what we need for the express purpose to also fit others. I see books, mostly theological, for our spiritual growth and enjoyment, and fiction, for the same purpose (if properly selected).

Thinking more deeply about things we buy becomes more important as the purchase price increases. Do you really need a vacation home in the mountains? What if one important reason to buy it is to let fellow church members stay there for free? I think that is one amazing way to show hospitality! The same rationale applies to less costly items, too, though not to the same degree. I would hope you spend more time thinking about a house purchase than what kind of cucumber to buy, but even the smallest vegetable has a purpose (why buy it otherwise?), and if it has a purpose, it better be a godly one.

God’s people ought to be thoughtful, not careless. One way to show it is with our possessions. It’s not an exact science, so there is grace, and I think our good intentions make up for the inevitable bad decision; “love covers a multitude of sins”, as the apostle says (1 Peter 4:8). Have you considered the eternal purpose of your belongings? I’d be interested to hear how you make these kinds of decisions. My contact info is below if you’d like to take the time to write.

Photo: Sbringser from Pixabay

  1. We know that God is eternal, as is his word and the souls of people. I can’t think of anything else which won’t perish in the end. ↩︎