I will admit that I have watched a couple of episodes of “Hoarders” on A&E. I’m fascinated by how incredibly bizarre the lives are of those who hoard. Their houses are packed from top to bottom with things that they just can’t find the willpower to part with. They hoard and stash valuable things all the way down to gum wrappers until there is hardly any room in their homes for them to move around…and that’s when the cameras show up. The people featured on this show have a serious problem, and their hoarding is often a result of some mental or emotional illness or disorder.
But I don’t hoard like that. I’m not like them. I throw things away, and I even give things away to those in need – sometimes. Plus, I’m married to a woman with the gift of hospitality, which is accompanied by the gift of housecleaning. She has taught me well! Hoarders have a problem. I don’t.
Or do I? Obviously the kind of hoarding featured on the show is the extreme, but after reading this quote by one of my Christian heroes, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, I’m not so sure I don’t have a problem myself. He wrote these words in his benchmark book, The Cost of Discipleship:
“Earthly goods are given to be used, not to be collected. In the wilderness God gave Israel the manna every day, and they had no need to worry about food and drink. Indeed, if they kept any of the manna over until the next day, it went bad. In the same way, the disciple must receive his portion from God every day. If he stores it up as a permanent possession, he spoils not only the gift, but himself as well, for he sets his heart on accumulated wealth, and makes it a barrier between himself and God. Where our treasure is, there is our trust, our security, our consolation and our God. Hoarding is idolatry.”
I’m not convinced that having a savings is sin, nor am I convinced that I should give everything I own away and expect God to replenish me anew every morning with the things I gave away the day before. Many of the things I have are things God has given me that I need for the sustenance of me and my family. However, I have many things I don’t need.
I’ve moved my family 11 times in the 18 years I’ve been married. I’ve hauled a lot of things from place to place to place. I’m also well aware that there are many in my scope of influence who do not have what they need. I have dabbled in hoarding, and I don’t think I feel very good about it after all. May the Lord continue to press on us the truth that He has blessed us in order to be a blessing to others, and may He remind us often of these words penned by the Apostle Paul.
I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of fairness your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness. As it is written, “Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack.” (2 Corinthians 8:13-15)