“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also….No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money” (Matthew 6:19-24).
When I think of treasures in heaven, I’m reminded of the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22: “…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” I’m amazed at how many of those “fruits” can work hand-in-hand with simplifying and uncluttering our homes.
Love and gentleness: with love and gentleness, we can look at others in compassion, see a need, and give of what we have.
Joy: the joy that comes not only from giving, but in the freedom of having less to care for, keep up, and worry about.
Peace: the peace that comes from not being surrounded by, and overwhelmed by, too many things.
Patience: the patience we learn as we rely on Him to supply our needs, in His time.
Kindness and goodness: again, as we see others in need and are able to share, providing for them through our abundance.
Faithfulness: As we walk faithfully with God, we will learn to trust Him more to provide for our needs, and we can faithfully and continually give to others as He gives us even more than enough.
Self-control: This one sometimes hurts. This is the one where we turn away from excess, where we learn to recognize our true needs from a want, where we walk away from the idea of “more is better.” Exercising self-control as we simplify means we evaluate every purchase we make, and ask questions. Will this truly make my life simpler? Is this a need, or a temporary desire? Can I do without it?
Those questions kept coming to mind as I wrestled with whether to buy a rug for our living room’s hardwood floors. Will this truly make my life simpler? No. It would give me one more area to vacuum, and I would still need to sweep around the edges, where all the dog fur would be accumulating on a regular basis. It would be one more carpeted surface to stain if anything spilled on it. It would be a good-sized chunk out of our bank account; money that could definitely go to better places, right? And yet….our poor dog, ninety-one-years-old in dog years, could definitely use the more solid surface of a carpet as he struggles to get his three-good-legs arthritic furry body around. It would make his life much simpler. So round and round I went…. Thinking—really thinking–before you buy is not much fun. But I do think it gives us a deeper appreciation for our things, and leads us to buying more wisely.
We did finally break down and buy the rug I’d been looking at for months. Money out of our bank account? Check; though not as much as it could have been. One more thing to stain? Well, check, though nothing’s happened yet. (Knock on wood.) One more area to vacuum: check; which has proven to be not a big deal. It’s a good, heavy rug with backing on it; it’s not going anywhere if I run a vacuum over it.
Here’s the thing, though: that rug has turned our living room into a place where everyone wants to hang out. Suddenly, the middle of the floor is the place to be. My husband and I sit and read in our “spots,” and the kids are lying on the floor, reading and playing. My daughter has commented more than once, “Mommy! The whole family is in here!”—meaning dogs, too. It’s been such a joy to have that happen that I have absolutely no regrets about buying that rug. If anything, I wish we’d bought it sooner—but would I have as great an appreciation for it if I had?