I’m on a rampage this week. My father showed up at the doorstep and said, “Why don’t we clean the garage?” I hemmed and hawed that I didn’t have time, but like the second son of the parable who at first said no and then did what he was told, I threw on work clothes and joined my dad.
That’s when the rampage started. Improbably, I got into the project with a vengeance—vengeance at the clutter, vengeance at the way it has taken over my existence and slowed me down and sucked the life out of my day and whittled away at my efficiency and spoiled my aesthetics and fostered discouragement.
“And the crowds asked him, ‘What then shall we do?’ And he answered them, ‘Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none …’” (Luke 3:10–11, ESV).
I always took John the Baptist’s command to be motivated by the following things: glory to God, concern for the poor, insistence that the Jews prove their earnestness of faith by a concrete obeisance, desire to give the Jews their first practical experience in unselfishness. And this is all true, I’m sure. But there is another benefit of obeying the command to downsize that had not occurred to me until my rampage: There is a benefit in obedience to the one who obeys. There is a freedom that it brings that is quite unexpected. The person who has decided to follow Christ must disencumber himself of every weight that slows him down and every possession that consumes his time.
“… let us also lay aside every weight … and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1, ESV).
You will notice I left out the part of the verse about laying aside sin. But the “sin” part is the only part I usually see when I read that, and at this moment I wish to highlight that other part that inhibits “the race.” “Every weight” surely means every weight, including choking materialism.
Now, I am not saying a person may not be rich and be a wonderful follower of Christ. I am just saying that I was succumbing to spiritual torpor under the weight of a surfeit of goods in the garage and in the basement and in the attic. Yes, I ended up attacking all three areas, and whipping them into submission. When the dust had settled there were rows of tall trash bags on the side of the house, some destined for landfill and others for trips to the local Christian thrift store. Upon waking in the morning, I keep running downstairs just to admire the basement, and out to the garage and up to the attic to enjoy their Spartan beauty.
It never ceases to amaze me that the commands of God are multi-purposeful. Whether the command is to worship Him, to choose joy, or to give away that extra tunic, those who do what God says, even when not fully understanding why, end up discovering that compliance yields surprising benefits for the one who complies.