If you dump a box of toys in front of a toddler, many of them will just give you a quizzical look. But if you give them just a toy or two they are able to focus on it, engage their imagination, and in no time they’re having a great time. That’s because sometimes less is more. The child has more fun with less toys.
One of the positive things going on in our culture is the move many people are making toward simpler living. They are de-cluttering their lives and the younger generation is leading the way.
But if “less is more” is true, then so is its converse—“more is less.” That’s sounds un-American to some of us because we were raised to believe that more was always better. But is it? Couldn’t all of us get along fine with a few less clothes, electronic gadgets, or a few less things in our garage or attic? The truth is, most of us have stuff that we don’t why we have, we have things we didn’t know we had, and we have items we haven’t used it in years! As the size of families in America has decreased, the size of our houses has increased. We now have closets you can park cars in. But that’s still not enough. The storage industry has grown steadily in our country and accounted for 33 billion dollars’ worth of business last year and it is expected to grow at an annual rate of 3.5 percent rate over the next five years (IBISworld). I think it’s pretty clear that we do not possess our possession—they possess us! This is not good.
What if we started measuring wealth not by what we have to live with, but by what we could live without?
The word for too much stuff is clutter. Too much clutter in your arteries causes a heart attack. Too much clutter in a building blocks the traffic lanes and is a violation of the fire code. Too much clutter in your home can collect dust, form mold, and cause respiratory problems. Peter Walsh speaks of an association between clutter and being overweight as both have to do with too much consumption.
Clutter can be material things like we’ve been talking about or it can be other things that preoccupy our minds and distract our spirits. Worry, fear, guilt, pride, greed, and a host of other things can blur our focus on God. Jesus addressed this hazard when He told us to seek first the kingdom of God. He said the same kind of thing to Martha when He told her, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one” (Luke 10:41-42). And when He said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8), He was saying that the result of keeping your heart uncluttered is powerful vision of God.
With this He got to the heart of the problem with clutter—it can keep us from seeing God! In the same way that a dense fog can prevent us from seeing the road, clutter can cloud our ability to experience God. With that in mind, de-cluttering our lives isn’t only about simplifying, it’s about sharpening our vision of God.
That’s the best reason to get the clutter out of our lives!