Hoarding and Greed

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I was watching a lot of documentaries about extreme hoarding, and I could not help but be shocked by the number of possessions some people have, and the rationalization behind it! But what was most alarming was the strong emotional attachment to their items, and the frenzied like behaviour when shopping.

I am a daughter of a hoarder, and this really hit home for me. I can remember going to thrift stores with my mother, and how she would ALWAYS find many items to purchase. It was mostly clothing, kitchen items (a friend once commented that we had enough cutlery for a family of 10), and decorations. Our rec room was too full to use, and our bathrooms were covered in a large variety of creams and soaps. Our cupboards were always overflowing, and in order to fit things, we had to learn different systems of organization that were tedious. For instance, we had certain towels designated for the upstairs and the downstairs that had to be folded a very specific way in order to fit them all. If they did not fit, the quantity was never the reason, but the folder of the towels! If only we all learned the system, we wouldn’t have trouble! The same went for cups. They were all mismatched and of different weights and strengths, so you had to learn which ones could get stacked into others, as to not break one of them!

What would be simple and quick chores for most people, were painstaking for us. Dusting all the nicknacks took long, cleaning a washroom meant taking down all of the products just to wipe a surface down, etc.

The excuses for all this mess were of the following variety:

1. Our house is just too small

2. We (her children) were just not organized enough, or too lazy to keep things in order

3. This is her only hobby since we don’t have much money so she cannot give up the only thing that makes her happy/that she has fun with.

4. (similar to 3) “Since I don’t have money to go on vacations, I can at least shop.”

I also noticed that my mother had a very difficult time making decisions out of fear. But imagine how many more decisions she had to make with all the things she had. She’d have to pick out what to wear out of 2 dressers, one large closet, and boxes of clothes, and look through 50+ shoes and 15+ jackets each time she dressed.

I started wondering what the root of this problem is. I saw the therapists and organizers on the show give their input, but it didn’t feel like a full picture. They linked it to trauma, being brought up in a messy house, anxiety, OCD, an addiction etc. I don’t doubt that these could contribute to the problem, but I also searched the Bible for more insight.

Here are some wise words of Jesus Christ

“Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. 16 And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, 17 and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ 18 And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.  Luke 12:15-21

Jesus wanted us to store up treasure in heaven, and not to hoard it up on earth. He wanted us to be rich in things that will last, not things that can rot, mould, and have no value.

A really eerie warning and description is found in the proverbs:

Sheol and Abaddon are never satisfied, and never satisfied are the eyes of man. Proverbs 27:20

hellfire

Here it seems the unquenchable desire for goods, is as unquenchable as the fires of hell! I have never reflected on this verse, and it shakes me to the core. But it gets deeper than that …

My son, if sinners entice you,
Do not consent.
11 If they say, “Come with us,
Let us lie in wait to shed blood;
Let us lurk secretly for the innocent without cause;
12 Let us swallow them alive like Sheol,[a]
And whole, like those who go down to the Pit;
13 We shall find all kinds of precious possessions,
We shall fill our houses with spoil;
14 Cast in your lot among us,
Let us all have one purse”—
15 My son, do not walk in the way with them,
Keep your foot from their path;
16 For their feet run to evil,
And they make haste to shed blood.
17 Surely, in vain the net is spread
In the sight of any bird;
18 But they lie in wait for their own blood,
They lurk secretly for their own lives.
19 So are the ways of everyone who is greedy for gain;
It takes away the life of its owners-Proverbs 1:11-19

Here it equates EVERYONE who is greedy for gain, as like those who would rob and shed blood for goods. Greed destroys no matter how it is pursued. And even though the therapists on these hoarding shows would call it a disorder, Jesus has another name for it.

20 And He said, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within and defile a man.”Mark 7:20-23

And what about the gospel and this condition? Here it is explained in a familiar parable:

Luke 8:14 The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.

Mark 4:19 but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.

thorny-ground

So it chokes the gospel message in those who have received it. What is seen as a pleasure, is actually a life taking thorn. To expand upon this we are instructed what to do with those who call themselves believers but are taken over with greed

1 Corinthians 5:11  But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.

Besides greed, there is also another deadly sin at the heart of this:

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Luke 12:34 

For this you know, that no fornicator, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. -Ephesians 5:5

“Whatever becomes the chief object of our desire, so as to claim our chief fear and love, is, of course, an idol; for “ye cannot serve God and mammon.” When we absolutely forget about God due to our covetousness, we are setting up some other object of worship to fill the vacant throne.” Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers

The other object of worship would be: “something comparatively very base and contemptible, in the place of God, as if it could be the ground of his dependence, and the source of his happiness” Benson Commentary

Remedy-for-Idolatry-3_620.jpgSo idolatry is also in the hearts of those who cannot stop shopping and hoarding.

 

 


But ultimately this piece is not meant to condemn or oversimplify the issue. As I mentioned earlier in this post, it is likely a combination of the biblical reasons and some of the secular reasons. A person can genuinely have a mental health problem, family history, compounded by issues of their heart: greed and idolatry, that could create such a scenario.

People who are in this state need help with getting things organized, trashed, donated, as well as support from loved ones and friends. They also desperately need prayer and a change of heart.

 

 

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Following

A man seen as intelligent speaks with authority based on what he believes to be true. The very same men who shun the idea of gurus, pastors or sages have their minds and attention captured and raptured by his delightful articulation of novel ideas.

When they disassemble and return to their respective homes they are glowing as if they just attended a religious revival. When his relatives notice this, his glow fades as he stumbles to reproduce what he has heard. He promises himself to memorize the words of the man so that they never have to face that discomfort again.

Week after week they return to this man and find that they can not only listen to but participate in his novel ideas. It gives them a sense of belonging and validation of their intelligence and worth.

One week a group of religious men seat themselves close by. They are met with snarls of derision as they are imagined to be inferior, impressionable, and weak.

The religious men then circle around one man who speaks to them about his novel ideas articulated in a delightful and captivating way. They glow with excitement and are eager to tell their relatives when they arrive home.

Faced with the same predicament as the first group, they memorize all of the novel ideas they have learned until they are able to share in the conversation to receive a sense of belonging and validation.

The two groups do not get along.

One other week a group of Christians seat themselves close by. They are received by both groups coldly for their perceived inferiority. Unlike the first two groups, they carry on with a casual demeanour speaking of simple things, such as how their days were going, with anecdotes about what they sensed that God was doing in their lives. They were glowing with joy.

Eyeballs were rolling all around them. Nothing that they said came was pompously inaccessible or tickling to the ears. They were seen as unlearned. They did not command the respect of other men nor did they seek it out.

But when the Christians arrived back home afterwards they had no lines to memorize for validation, nor pressure to be seen as anything but what they were.

When they arrived back the following week, the other two groups were in disarray. Their wise men had died during the past week. The Christians asked them what was the matter, and sheepishly they responded, they no longer had anyone to follow.

Everyone follows someone, whether we like to admit it or not.

Chained in Circumspection vs Cherished in Christ

I know that God wants me to be temperate, and discerning, but I fear these too mild because it is perfection I am yearning. If I take a few steps away, sin still might be in my sight, and the terror this brings me keeps me up at night.

I wish it was just plain and I was told just to abstain from anything remotely close to all those dreaded failings that I fear most. So I shall measure my portions by the grain, and from all grapes abstain so I shall be no glutton or drunk and in Satan’s oven roast.

And in time I’ll have it all down pat – all the dos and don’t and whys, and shall be known by God as a man who really tries.

——————————

I know that Christ has set me free, with a yoke light and easy and a filling of the spirit to be my light. So when circumstances arise it will not be disguised what pleases Him in plain sight.

And when I see sin around I will not condemn myself for mere proximity, but shine a light by the gospel and my testimony.

And in time I’ll be fully sanctified, when this weak body dies, and be known by God as a man righteous through Christ in His eyes.

Stale Air (Poem)

There is an extroverted push that the Gospel brings, that is incompatible with introspective seclusion. It quickens one’s heart to all the wanderers around, who live in a godless delusion. But when the words of God pass over one’s heart for the words of men that pass over one’s head, it becomes a matter of enlightenment versus salvation. Professing to be wise when they’re really just proficient in their own imagination.

There is a vanity that pulls men to search the scriptures for any end but Jesus so he can converse on a higher plane of thought. But what does it profit a man to simply be learned and taught? If men think of themselves as high as the angels with their hearts all puffed, God shall humble them down as if clouds made of fluff.

 

 

Why did God make people since they are rebellious?

Why did God make people if He knew that they will rebel and do evil things?

When people ask me this question, they seem to assume that the answer should be one strictly based on logic, or through the lens of a risk, cost, and benefit analysis. When the relational aspect between God and man is removed from that equation, the question becomes more of a rhetorical question, or a stand-alone statement used to mock God’s decision-making abilities. When the relational aspect is included, things start to make more sense.

In response to this question, one could answer back with other questions to remind them of where their question lacks, such as one like this:
“Why do people adopt children from abusive homes when there is a high likelihood of behavioural problems?

Here it would be hoped that the inquirer would come to realise some answers. They might conclude that people would adopt these children so that they can love them, help them overcome trials, teach them, mature them, and ultimately hope that they would love them back. Then the inquirer might realise the folly of their question, but more importantly come to see God as one of love and restoration, versus the questionable decision maker they once saw Him as.

Then it would be wise to include that God’s plan of redemption was in place before the foundation of the world because He knew that we would all fall short. Also that He delights in showing mercy (Micah 7:18), that He is patient and does not want any to perish (2 Peter 3:9), and His other attributes. Ultimately that He can both handle and resolve it!

This is not a complete answer, but some food for thought when facing this question.

Lessons Learned Today

Today I learned the importance of standing up for God-even though He does not really need standing up for, for nothing can change who He is and His standing. I mean this in the sense of letting people know in some way or another that you recognize yourself with Him and that you care about what he cares about. He wants us to be discerning as He is discerning of both good and evil. He wants us to be involved in His kingdom and fight the good fight. Although it sounds humble to say ‘to each their own,’ it is not Biblical. We are not to validate evil, but abhor it and work against it. We are to pursue and think of all things good for His glory and the advancement of His kingdom.

I also learned, although silently, that through being a parent many questions that I used to get asked on the street, have a clear answer now. From this vantage point, I can understand why God would create people even though he knew that some would rebel or go through pain and be suffering out of their own will. I now know to some level that we are created to be loved and in to walk closely with Him. I had my child and am having another knowing that they will not have a perfect life, but I can guarantee that I will always have a love for them-though imperfectly.

Today I was also reminded of the power of the name of Jesus Christ. Although this might sound silly, whenever I have nightmares I lift the name of Jesus Christ high and praise Him for who He is–and all those terrors flee!

And finally, I am slowly and stubbornly learning to place people down off of unreasonable pedestals and expectations to be to me who only God can be to me. I will not find completion in romance, or materials, or experiences, but only in Him. This will be a prayer of mine for the rest of my life.