Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. – Matthew 6:19-21
I don’t know about you, but every time I read this verse, it hits me. Hard. It hits me both literally and figuratively. It hits me because I am painfully aware that I’m surrounded by ‘stuff’ that gets in the way of my relationship with my heavenly father. I’m well aware that my earthly self consistently puts worth and value in things that are of this earth versus things that are of His Kingdom. Otherwise stated, I often find myself unintentionally, and far too often, treasuring the wrong things.
Friends, I have another confession. Clutter makes me mean and crazy. My poor family knows it and I am confident it is one of the many weaknesses I have that drives them absolutely crazy. I simply cannot relax when clutter abounds and things are out of their place. Stacks of paper on the kitchen counter. Toys on the floor. Remotes scattered over the coffee table. Beds not made. Dishes in the sink. It. All. Drives. Me. Crazy. (And I’d be remiss if I did not share that close friends who know me well know it doesn’t drive me crazy at their house, just mine. Heck, I won’t even notice it at your house. Go figure there.) So, now that you have a small picture of what physical clutter does to me, just imagine emotional clutter piled on top of that. It’s not a pretty picture.
Over my lifetime, I have chalked this little quirk up to a mild case of OCD (okay, my husband might share it’s a little more than mild…), and I also caught myself wearing this as an identity. The conversation would sound something like, ‘I’m just wired this way”. Even as I write this, while so familiar as I’ve probably said it 100 times before, I know that it is a lie. So, I’m “just wired” to be stressed out when things aren’t just so? Heck no. God set me straight on that one a few years ago. None of us have been “just wired” with perceived weaknesses. (I could write a separate entry on that alone.) It’s just that over time, we lean into and hold onto them and they somehow make their way into our identity. Now, I might be wired with a gift for bringing order to things; that’s different, and that sounds much better, I might add!
About a year ago, as my husband Matt was kindly receiving my stress each night I would come home late to a house that was less than orderly, he reminded me that I had a choice. I vividly remember him stating, “Before you even open the car door upon arriving home, you have a choice. You can choose to react negatively to the mess you walk into, or react positively to the family you’re coming home to.” Was I choosing to treasure the relationships or the need for order? OUCH. I was definitely obsessing over the mess.
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
– Galatians 5:16
I was living by flesh versus by the Spirit. And because I have a predisposition to negatively react to mess and clutter, I have to consciously make a choice about how I am going to react each time I open the door. After all, God said to love one another, not to love an orderly house!
God changes our hearts through our obedience to His ways and our focus on His treasure.
By consistently making the choice to shift my focus to the people He treasures versus my personal desire for a clutter free living space, I’m practicing obedience to God. Through this practice, I begin to see the fruit of the Spirit within me as my character develops, and in my relationships as I focus on what matters most: People! (And for Heaven’s sake, the people in the family with which God so graciously blessed me!)
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. – Galatians 5:22
Are there things in your life you find yourself treasuring, knowing they are a distraction from what God wants you to treasure? If so, I welcome you to join me in this prayer:
Lord, examine my heart, and give me the discernment to quickly identify and rid of those things that are not of you and your Kingdom. Bring to light the things I treasure that are not in your favor, and help me to take focus off of them and onto you. Help me to walk in the spirit and not in my flesh. Help me to see your treasure in everyone and everything around me, that I might find all of my joy and contentment in that which has been gifted by you. In your precious son’s name I pray. Amen.
Now, I need to go clean up the kitchen….just kidding; I’m going to go hug my family. Then we’ll clean up if we have time.