If you could take a look at the things that really make you who you are, would the picture seem like a chaotic, overly crowded scene? For instance, if you placed all of the things that are important to you in a container, would there be room for anything else? Depending on what the things are that you fill your container with, you may be better served to take some of those things out. If you didn’t have room for something else in your closet, you would get rid of somethings. If there’s no room for the things of Christ in your life, it may be time to do the same.
Every year, my wife, like millions of other people around the world, goes on a spring-cleaning frenzy. She usually starts downstairs and goes through every room, unloading things that she’s convinced she can live without. By the time she’s done with the downstairs, she has my truck ready to load down with boxes that need to be taken to our church’s charity center. Impressively, she doesn’t miss a beat as she heads upstairs and starts going through the closets in our bedroom and the bedrooms of our children. Every year, no matter how many times I’ve seen her do this, I’m amazed at the amount of stuff that she pulls out of our closets. Clothes, shoes, books, toys, and virtually everything else gets loaded out so room can be made for more stuff.
Ok, she probably doesn’t clean out the closets with the goal of buying more stuff in mind. In fact, every year, we both commit to not buying as much stuff as we did the year before. However, judging by the number of boxes that I end up driving away from our house, it’s not a goal that we’re good at meeting.
Last year was our personal record, as I drove away with three truckloads of items that we were donating to the charity center that our church operates. Obviously, there are multiple lessons to be learned here. The first, and perhaps the most obvious, is that we really need to cancel our Amazon Prime subscription and stop shopping so much. The second is a more spiritual application. Our spiritual lives can get even more cluttered than our closets.
The problem with having an overly cluttered life is found in the fact that it often leads to not having enough room for us to enjoy the things that God wants to give us. When our spiritual closets are so jampacked that there’s no room for more of God, there’s really only one solution: we have to spring clean our lives. Getting rid of some things that aren’t contributing anything positive ensures that there’s more room for the things that God wants to impart to His people. Allow the Holy Spirit to minister to you while you try to make room for more of what matters.
Need to Get Rid of Something? Start with the Past
Philippians 3:12-14 (TPT)
I admit that I haven’t yet acquired the absolute fullness that I’m pursuing, but I run with passion into his abundance so that I may reach the purpose that Jesus Christ has called me to fulfill and wants me to discover. I don’t depend on my own strength to accomplish this; however I do have one compelling focus: I forget all of the past as I fasten my heart to the future instead. I run straight for the divine invitation of reaching the heavenly goal and gaining the victory-prize through the anointing of Jesus.
Our pasts can lead to all types of overcrowding that reaches different levels of our lives. For instance, when you allow the issues that you experienced in past relationships to impact your current relationships, your current relationships will suffer. Perhaps you’ve gone through a divorce in the past because of an unfaithful spouse. If that’s the case, you can’t go into your current marriage assuming that this spouse is also cheating every time he or she has to work late.
In the same vein, you can’t allow past trials and tribulations to cloud your current view of God. Doing so will limit what you can see Him do in your life today. Paul understood the importance of moving past your past. Afterall, his was anything less than stellar.
Before he became the author of most of the New Testament, a missionary, and a church planter who played a pivotal role in the spreading of the Gospel, Paul was a religious leader. In fact, he referred to himself as a pharisee of pharisees (Philippians 3:5). Paul was so committed to his life of enforcing the religious laws of the day that he not only arrested members of the early church, but even oversaw their executions.
If anyone had a right to let his past get in the way of his future, it was Paul. It’s impossible to know the kind of guilt that Paul experienced when he thought about his life before salvation. However, he had to make a decision about what he was going to let that guilt do. It could limit his ability to spread the Gospel, or he could use it as a means of inspiration.
Paul decided that he would not let his past hold him back. He forgot about the past and fastened his heart to the future. We can do the same thing. Allowing our past to clutter our present leaves us in a state of perpetual shame. That’s not God’s plan, and it can keep us from obtaining the victory-prize that Paul spoke of.
Acts 20:24 (TPT)
“But whether I live or die is not important, for I don’t’ esteem my life as indispensable. It’s more important for me to fulfill my destiny and to finish the ministry my Lord Jesus has assigned to me, which is to faithfully preach the wonderful news of God’s grace.
Our priorities are often one of the most clutter-inducing aspects of our lives. In the same way that my wife tackles the closets, cupboards, and every other space in our house every spring, we should live in a constant state of evaluation of our priorities.
Paul went so far as to say that he didn’t even consider his own life to be the most important thing to him. He obviously backed that statement up, as he was arrested, tortured, beaten, threatened, and underwent all sorts of attacks for preaching the Gospel. However, when faced with a choice between saving his own life and giving up his God-given ministry, Paul always chose the things of God over self-preservation.
Why? Because Paul had his priorities in order. We are incredibly blessed to live in a society where we will never be arrested, beaten, or killed for believing in Jesus Christ and sharing His Gospel with others. However, there are millions of believers around the world who don’t live in that sort of luxury. Instead, they continually choose to pursue the things of God, even at the risk of their own lives.
With that in mind, it becomes much easier for us to think about our own priorities. Do you remember the jar that we talked about earlier? I’m talking about the one that we said holds all the things that are important to you in your life. We can fill that jar with ambition, wealth, popularity, and all sorts of other things. While there is nothing wrong with wanting to advance in your career, earn enough income to take care of you and your family, or being loved by your friends and family, those pursuits can’t be the most important things to us.
When we allow those things to take up all the space in our “jar,” we don’t leave any room for the things that God wants to give us. The Fruits of the Spirit (listed in Galatians 5:22-23) are the things that God wants to put in our jar. Things such as joy, peace, patience, and other Godly traits are what we should be giving the most space to. Understanding how to get rid of some of the things that don’t matter is the most important part of making room for the things of God.
How overcrowded is your spiritual house? If there’s no room for love, joy, peace, patience, and all of the other Fruits of the Spirit, it’s time to do your own spring cleaning. Fortunately, the Holy Spirit is always prepared to help bring the things to light that we can get rid of while helping us bring in more of the things that matter.
A Closing Prayer:
God, help me to identify the areas where I can get rid of some of my spiritual clutter. Help me to move past my past in pursuit of the future that You have for me. In Christ’s name, Amen.