Does the Bible talk about clutter? What does it say? This quick and easy Bible study about the rich young ruler tells us what we need to know about clutter so we can live the life we long for.
pin it for later!
It can affect more than your home. And it can be more than that scary corner of your living room with a random baby bathtub in it.
If you let it get out of hand, it can take over your life – physically, mentally, and spiritually. Yes, even spiritually.
Jesus and the Rich Young Ruler (and getting rid of stuff)
In Matthew 19:16, the Bible tells the account of the rich young ruler who approached Jesus and asked, “What good thing must I do to get eternal life?” (NIV)
Jesus told the man that he must keep the commandments. This wasn’t enough for the young ruler though. He wanted to know which commandments he must keep. When Jesus listed several of the ten commandments, the man responded that he had kept all of those but still wanted to know what he lacked.
Jesus’ response was beautiful in Matthew 19:21, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then, come, follow me.”
In other words, get rid of your clutter and follow me.
The Misunderstanding in the Rich Young Ruler’s Story
Don’t get hung up on the “sell your possessions” part. We may interpret this as having wealth is bad. After all, Jesus turns to his disciples and tells them it is “easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into Heaven” (Matthew 19:24).
Doesn’t that sound to you like being rich will send you straight to hell? It does to me.
But hold on, Sister!
Let’s take a look at another account in the New Testament. I think it will provide you with a little relief.
Luke (in verses 10:25 – 37) tells the account of a lawyer who asked Jesus, “What do I need to do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus quizzes the expert about what the law says to which the expert replies, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your strength and all your mind; and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ “
The man asks Jesus to clarify who his neighbor is and Jesus tells the famous story of the Good Samaritan. At the end of the parable, the expert in the law recognized that the man who had mercy was the one who was being a neighbor. Jesus then tells him, “Go and do likewise.”
Wait a minute! Jesus didn’t tell this man to sell all of his possessions. What’s the deal?
This is where we need to dig a little deeper because if we don’t, we run the risk of misunderstanding.
what the bible says about (all kinds of) clutter
So let’s look at what Jesus commands each of the men.
To the rich young ruler, he says “Go and sell your possessions.”
To the expert in the law, Jesus says, “Go and do likewise [be merciful to others].”
I started to notice that these men were not identified by their names. We have a man identified as a rich young ruler and a man identified as an expert in the law (a lawyer). We need to focus on those facts to give us a glimpse into who these men were.
The man who was identified by the wealth of possessions he owned was told to sell them all.
To get rid of his physical clutter.
The man who was identified as an expert in the law (and perhaps a man who was legalistic because of his knowledge of the law) was told to go and be merciful – to love his neighbor as himself.
To let go of his spiritual/mental clutter.
Jesus asked them to relinquish the things that kept them from fully chasing after God. They were living a life with abundant wealth and knowledge but not the abundant life that God was calling them too. I think we have a tendency to do that as well, don’t you?
What Jesus is calling us to do is exactly the one thing he called these men to do.
To relinquish the things that we are holding onto with a death grip.
To rid ourselves of things that are holding us back from living a life of abundance with God.
To get rid of clutter – both physically, mentally, and emotionally.
All of it keeps us focused on things other than God.
how clutter is connected to spiritual growth?
Up to this point, we haven’t even addressed the original question presented to Jesus. He answered the rich young ruler in two parts. Go and sell your possessions. Then come, and follow me.
Free yourself of the things you are clinging so tightly to that are keeping you from following me.
We have things holding us back.
In order to follow Jesus, we need to be willing to let go of that stuff. He promised the Rich Young Ruler, and he promises us, that we will have treasure in heaven (Matthew 19: 21).
When the disciples then asked Jesus, “Who then will be saved?” He tells them that “everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life” (Matthew 19: 29).
That first word is everyone. That includes you. me. your neighbor’s aunt’s hairdresser. EVERYONE!
It just requires that we not hold on so tightly to the things of this world. If we are willing to let go of the stuff here, Jesus promises that we will receive a hundred times as much. Oh, and as an added bonus, we will also inherit eternal life.
He wants us to follow him. We can’t do that when we are clinging so tightly to worldly things.
We can’t do that until we get rid of the clutter.
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