Give it away

Published 8:23 am Thursday, March 28, 2019

Recently, Mell and I moved from a three-story house full of furniture, mementos and stuff to a small condominium less than half the size. So, in addition to the normal stress and strain of moving we also faced a serious dilemma of how to reduce our possessions by more than 50 percent. How do you eliminate half of your furniture, half of your mementos, half of your pictures, paintings and books?

Jesus said: “Sell your possessions and give to those in need. This will store up treasure for you in heaven. And the purses of heaven never get old or develop holes. Your treasure will be safe; no thief can steal it and no moth can destroy it. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” (Luke 12:33-34)

With that in mind, Mell and I faced a dilemma. We could sell everything, or we could give it away. Although the decision was painful at first, we chose to give everything away. For many days, I filled up a truck or my car and took everything to Park View Community Mission in Lynchburg, where my office was located. They provide badly needed food and other help for more than 500 families each month. Throughout the building we placed mementos, dishes, furniture, tools, lawn equipment, books and pictures. The sign simply said, “Free.”

As word circulated, people would gather. At times they would linger picking up something, then put it down. Some would ask, “Are you serious? Is this really free?” Another said, “I can give this as a present to my sister.” Still another would smile and simply say, “Thank you.” One person saw the sign, “Free,” and picked up the bookcase holding many of the items and started to walk out. We had to stop him with an apology: “Sorry. We didn’t mean the bookcase.”

So, what were the lessons? Pain can turn to joy — at first, the decision to part with your things and give them away is painful but at some point in the process, giving generously and creatively can be a joy. Possessions will often possess you — the more you have, the more you feel the need to care for, manage and protect your stuff. Letting possessions go can be a liberating experience that frees up your time, your energy and restores your sense of peace. Stuff is just stuff — material things provide little of lasting value but kindness and generosity have the potential to change lives eternally and provide opportunities to share your faith.

Jesus told a rich man, “Sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” But when the man heard this he became very sad, for he was very rich. When Jesus saw this, he said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God! In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” – Luke 18:24-25

Jesus describes a vivid picture — it’s hard enough to go through the eye of a needle but imagine trying to slip through while refusing to let go of your stuff. Impossible! But here is my favorite part. Astounded, the disciples asked. Those who heard this said, “Then who in the world can be saved?” Jesus replied, “What is impossible for people is possible with God.” — Luke 18:26-27

A promise that goes far beyond our earthly possessions. As you think and pray about what to give away. Pain can turn to joy — a decision to give generously and creatively can be a joy. Possessions will often possess you —letting possessions go can be a liberating experience that frees up your time, your energy and restores your sense of peace. Stuff is just stuff — material things provide little of lasting value but kindness and generosity have the potential to change lives eternally and provide opportunities to share your faith.

Jesus goes on to say, “I assure you that everyone who has given up house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the Kingdom of God, will be repaid many times over in this life, and will have eternal life in the world to come.” — Luke 18: 29-30.

REV. LARRY E. DAVIS can be reached at larrydavies@vaumc.org.