At some point last year. I became aware of a phenomenon called Swedish Death Cleaning. In short, it’s a Scandinavian decluttering practice in which you pare down your material possessions– so that when you die, your loved ones have less stuff to deal with.
Sound morbid? Possibly. Is it a valid concern? Definitely.
In a society where the self-storage industry grosses $38 billion dollars a year, owning so much stuff that it doesn’t even fit into one’s living space is a huge issue. And when you die, what happens to all that stuff…?
…Your loved ones have to deal with it. It doesn’t just disappear. Loved ones spend hours and hours wading through stockpiled stuff, and what happens to most of it? Honestly, it just ends up in a dumpster or donated anyway.
Jesus tells us a parable about a rich man (Luke 12:16-21) who decides to stockpile all sorts of goodies so that he can live large. He even tears down his original barns and builds bigger barns and storehouses so that he can store even more stuff.
This guy thinks that by storing up all this stuff, he will be able to just eat, drink and be merry the rest of his life. But then God jumps in, and says to the man: “‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’” And then Jesus finishes the parable and says: “So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:20-21)
This man spent so much time and effort building bigger barns and accumulating so much stuff– and after all of that, he wasn’t even getting to use any of it.
Here’s the thing. No matter how much stuff we stockpile, none of it gives us security. Only God does that.
And then when we die, what happens to all that stuff?? We can’t take it with us, that’s for sure!
In this parable, Jesus reminds us we were not created by God to accumulate stuff. We are created to love and serve God and others.
Having storage units (and living spaces) full of stuff just wastes the time, money, and energy God gives us. We are called to use these resources to give glory to God and serve others– not by stockpiling possessions that will just get thrown away or donated after we die.
How is God calling you to redefine how material possessions fit into your own life?