In this weeks blog we are going to be continuing with 'The Reset' series with our second part entitled Release. I want to try and help both myself and you reflect today about what might be holding us back and what we might need to let go of.
Our lives can often become cluttered. Cluttered by possessions, cluttered by commitments and cluttered by expectations. I want to look at these three kinds of clutter in biblical context and try and explore how we might benefit from decluttering in these areas.
So first of all, what does the Bible tell us about material possessions?
Matthew 6:19-21 (NIV)
Treasures in Heaven
19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
So this verse explains to us that we shouldn't store up 'treasures on earth'. For all of us our 'treasures' will be different. A personal example for myself is that I used to collect books, I literally had hundreds of books, a lot which that I had read and then put on a shelf or in a box never to be seen again, a lot of which that had never had the pages turned from the day that I had acquired them. It's important that we take a step back and look at what we are keeping and why we are keeping it. My justification for those books was that one day I might read them, but really they were just cluttering up my life. I got rid of every single book that I had read, by either giving them to friends or donating them to a local charity shop so that someone else could enjoy them. The books that I hadn't read before I sorted through and placed into a pile to keep and a pile to go and I've repeated this process several times. The idea that I am explaining here all hinges on the intentional living that we looked at last week and by removing the books that weren't adding anything positive into my life I have been able to focus more on reading the ones that do.
In theory, we can apply that idea to any of our possessions. I often refer back to my mission statement and say to myself, is this item going to help move forwards? Once we remove the distractions and the items that clutter up our lives we can start to make our physical space an intentional space. For me, it's all about removing the distractions for myself. The idea that 'moths' and 'vermin' will destroy our treasures or 'thieves' would break in and steal it is so true, if some of my possessions were eaten by moths or vermin, or stolen by thieves, I wouldn't have a clue that they were gone. So, do they really hold any value or importance in my life? An interesting question for us to ponder and maybe action in our own lives?
So the second point I want to look at is letting go of commitments. I've spent the last 8 years or so since I became a Christian being busy. Nothing springs to mind more than the story of Mary and Martha when I think about this topic.
Luke 10:38-42 (NIV)
At the Home of Martha and Mary
38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things,42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Being committed is a great thing, but sometimes we can commit ourselves to unproductive things. All to often we can get caught up in the 'doing' of things and forget the reason that we are doing them. Here in this account, Luke recalls Jesus giving a lesson in being 'still'. Take some time today to think about your commitments and what purpose they serve. By no means am I saying that we should stop doing things that are good for us or that bring us joy, but it's important that we are intentional about our commitments and that ultimately they help us to gain a closer connection with God. Service is so important and Martha was trying to serve Jesus in this account, but in doing so she completely missed the fact that the Son of God himself was sat in front of her. Don't let your commitments become more important than your relationship with God or your relationships with other people.
The final point that I want to look at also ties into this story really nicely. The idea of letting go of expectations. We spend so much of our lives taking action based on the expectations of others, societal expectations or the expectations that we put upon ourselves. Again, Martha in this story is acting based on a societal expectation that she needed to 'entertain' Jesus by preparing food, drink and ensuring her house was clean and tidy - why? It's such an important question that we should ask ourselves, why am I doing this? When we begin to align ourselves with God's expectations rather than the world expectations that are the norm in today's society, we will find that not only our actions will change but our perspectives, relationships and lives altogether will change abundantly. What are the expectations that have been put on your life? How do they line up wit God's expectations?
I hope there's a lot for us all to reflect about here and I know this isn't my usual style of blog! (Don't worry, I'll be getting back into the context and word origins soon).
I pray that we might live intentional lives, that we might release the things that are holding us back in order for God to give us the things we need. I pray that we might not hoard our earthly treasures but let go freely, that we might not be bound by commitments and that we might live under God's expectations.
Have a great week!