29. Managing Our Possessions

by Oct 9, 20232023

We are what we possess!

Well, that depends on what you mean. If you think of your possessions in terms of character, values, beliefs – inner-being kinds of things, I could agree. But if your meaning of possessions relates primarily to physical, tangible things, I couldn’t agree less!

Our possessions can be tricky things to manage well because they can offer great value and assistance to our lives: 

  • They bring us joy.
  • They can create a positive, welcoming environment. 
  • They serve to remind us of memorable experiences. 
  • They help us accomplish worthwhile goals. 

At the same time, our possessions can also gobble up big chunks of our time and resources. When we don’t manage them well, there can be many adverse effects.  Perhaps the most impactful of these is when they distract us in our pursuit of God’s purposes and His best plans for our life.

Taking An Honest Look

The purpose of this blog is to call attention to the power of possessions. As well as to encourage you to successfully manage them AND your accumulation of them. At no other time in recent history has so much been available to so many. Because of this, it necessitates honestly evaluating our attitudes toward what we possess and the value we place on what we own. 

This is where it becomes personal. We each have at least one “thing” we love or are drawn to. Something that calls to us each time we see it. Can you easily identify your personal area(s) of temptation? More importantly, have you considered how your possessions and attitudes surrounding it/them impact you as a follower of Jesus?

This topic carries both a call to exercise sensibility and to Biblical obedience. Regarding the first, a question we must ask ourselves is, “How much is enough?” We believe Scripture teaches the principle of having fitting boundaries and limits to what we seek to acquire and own.* God’s heart on this issue is not that of a stingy withholder of joy and material blessing. Rather, He knows how easily our hearts are drawn away from finding our complete joy and satisfaction in Him. Thus, His Word provides examples and reminders to help us obey the command to have no other gods before Him. (Exodus 20:3, paraphrased).

It is easy to profess, “It ALL belongs to God!” But if we voice such words, we must be careful to ensure we are truly LIVING what we speak! We may say we want the light of God’s Word to shape our attitudes and our behaviors. But when it comes to our possessions, it is not always easy! As with most of the topics about which I write, this is a heart issue.  Are we willing to look at the root of what is driving our behavior? To look at who or what possesses our hearts?  

To Have Or Have Not?

When our eyes (and hearts) are drawn to another vehicle, decoration, item of clothing, or experience, do we pause long enough to filter our purchasing decisions through a Scriptural lens? Here are a couple examples of such a filter:

  • Where does this purchase “fit” in obedience with the instruction of 1 John 2:15 to not love the world or the things in the world?
  • Or from Mark 8:36, does acquiring this item bring me worldly gain at the cost of my soul?

To quote Mark 8:36 in its entirety, it says, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” (ESV) Friends, there is an extreme interpretation of this verse and I also think a practical one to consider. Could losing one’s soul be the loss of fruitfulness in life?

Possessions are not wrong in and of themselves. But when we allow much of our time to be consumed with acquiring and maintaining them, it results in less time and opportunity to pursue God’s purposes.  So again, how do we determine “How much is enough?”

Using Scripture-informed “Muscles”

In the human body there are what’s called antagonistic muscles that oppose other agonist muscles. Together they work as a pair to bring about a muscle action. For most of us, our “acquiring and experiencing muscle” is easily (and often) exercised. But have we developed an antagonistic “muscle” to ensure our life’s “action” is not one of excess, without limits to our spending? 

I know firsthand how easy it is to follow the progression of, I see it, I like it, I want it. And if I have the resources to acquire it, is that to be the only criteria to determine what and how much I purchase? I don’t believe so, and because of that, I am working on developing my own Scripture-informed “antagonistic muscle”.

It is my fear that when no such muscle exists to serve as a gatekeeper to our cravings and desires for possessions, we are left with only our emotions to drive our decisions. I believe there IS a better way and Scripture is our guide to find it. Will you begin by taking a personal inventory today and then seek to glorify God in and through all you choose to possess?  I’m challenging myself with these things and pray you will do the same. 

Friends, as God’s disciples, we have been chosen to bear fruit – fruit that will last (John 15:16). We know we can’t take our “stuff” with us, so let’s ensure our lives – AND our possessions – reflect obedience to the Word of God.  

* See Matthew 19:16-26, Luke 12:15, Luke 12:21