Wednesday, March 21, 2012

De-cluttering and repentance

Because de-cluttering requires inner change, repentance is involved, meaning the atonement of Christ must be activated. Repentance is the inner core of all de-cluttering efforts, and de-cluttering efforts are best and most lasting and even sanctifying when based upon faith in Christ.

You may ask me, “But what do I have to repent of when I de-clutter? Accumulating stuff isn’t a sin, is it?” I will tell you honestly that I don’t know whether accumulating stuff is a sin. But I can tell you that when a huge amount of stuff is accumulated, certain vices tend to be present, and those vices must be repented of for any lasting change to happen, vices such as:

  • Covetousness
  • Greed
  • Distrust of the Lord’s power to provide
  • Procrastination

These are ugly sounding words, sounding so blatant, but recognize that these vices never seem blatant when they are indulged in. They seem rational and pleasing to the carnal mind, and it is their consequences that seem most blatant when those consequences are accumulated over a period of time. These vices are in the little tiny decisions that happen over and over. Taken separately, they seem too small to pay attention to, but over time they will bring you to a place where suddenly you wake up and realize you have a terrible problem, the cause of which is not readily apparent.

You may be thinking right now that I'm really judgmental of you for writing that clutter arises out of greed and covetousness and all of that nasty sin stuff. You might think that I would look at your clutter and think you were a bad person and turn up my nose at you. No, I never do that. Rather, I have high hopes for you; the very fact that you are reading this demonstrates to you and to me that you have good desires and you want to overcome those vices, even when you didn't know they were vices! See? I know you're GOOD and want to be BETTER.

De-cluttering is part of the repentance process for these vices, and I think many people don’t realize that. People think of de-cluttering as the solution, but really, it's not. The atonement of Christ provides the solution, which is repentance. Repentance is the inner change so that you have no more desire to do evil, but to do good continually. But... inner change needs practice for it to be lasting, and de-cluttering is the practice that helps cement the inner change. It also helps reveal other hidden areas where repentance is needed.

The atonement of Christ doesn’t just help you rid yourself of vices, however. It also helps you develop new virtues. The de-cluttering process is the opportunity to discover the need for these new virtues and practice them. De-cluttering is a challenge and it requires spiritual gifts to do it, so it makes sense to pray as you de-clutter and ask for those spiritual gifts as you discover you need them, spiritual gifts such as:

  • Discernment and judgment—De-cluttering requires you to develop the ability to make decisions in a new way that you haven’t before. It requires you to detect bad reasons for keeping things and cultivate stronger and better reasons for letting things go.
  • Determination and fortitude—The more stuff you have to de-clutter, the more you need this spiritual gift.
  • Vision—You need a vision of what your space could be like.
  • Hope—You need hope that your vision can be made real if you persevere and that the result will be wonderful and help you more than you think it can.
  • Faith—You need faith in yourself that you can do what it takes and faith in the Lord that He will help you and guide you.
  • Charity—You need to have charity for others that you will give your surplus goods to, charity not just for your close associates that you can give directly to, but also to the nameless, faceless people who will be benefited by your surplus when you donate it to an organization.
  • Prophecy—Sometimes you need to have a little bit of the gift of prophecy to be able to tell whether something really will be needed in the future. Just keep in mind, there is no element of fear in this prophecy, no element of doubt or temporizing. If you are keeping because of doubt or fear, then the faith required for prophecy is not present.
  • Comfort and peace—For some people (not all), letting things go can bring unexplainable, strong feelings of loss and grief. This is when the spiritual gift of comfort and peace is most needed.

This list is not exhaustive. If you can think of other spiritual gifts involved, please comment. If I think of more, I will add to this post.

The atonement of Christ is at the very foundation of all lasting positive change in our lives, including de-cluttering. It makes perfect sense to put it to work in our lives as we work to conquer our clutter.

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