Are you tired of spending your weekend cleaning your child’s bedroom? Does it seem to be a never-ending job? Have you created systems and organized everything, yet you are still overwhelmed? In the end, the root of the problem is likely too much stuff. The critical challenge for Christian parents is helping children think Biblically about their stuff.
Our culture is all about the accumulation of stuff. We are constantly told that we need to buy this or that to be happy, to fit in, or to solve our problems. Yet, as Christians, we should know the Truth. Happiness comes not from things but from our relationship with Jesus. We may not fit in with this broken world, but the God who made us loves us, and we belong to Him. God is our loving Father and wants to help us with our problems and is there for us. He can solve the real problems in our lives.
Too many things and too much clutter keep us from seeing God at work in our lives. Too much time is spent caring for things. Indeed, too much time is spent cleaning and putting things away. This is the time that we could spend on building relationships with others and with living out the gospel. The call for Christian parents is to cast a vision for our children of the role of “things” in their lives so they can deal with the clutter and be good stewards of their time and resources. Stewardship is a central idea in helping children think Biblically about their stuff.
Key ideas in helping children think Biblically about their Stuff…
Everything is a gift from God.
All we have is a gift from God; it isn’t indeed ours. The natural inclination of our hearts to claim things as ours. Mine, mine, mine are the words we start to utter as toddlers. We need to learn early to hold things loosely. This is a foundational idea that is the cornerstone to helping children think Biblically about their stuff.
We are on stewards of the resources that we have been given.
God has given us the things that we have for a reason and season. We need to be good stewards of those resources. We need to treat our things with respect by putting them away, cleaning them, and repairing them. Someday they might give to someone else to use. For example, if there are clothes that do not fit you – why let them grow old and rot in your closet? Free them up to bless someone else. This is how we are good stewards of the resources that which with we have been blessed.
We actually don’t need very much.
John the Baptist was preaching a message of repentance and preparing the people to receive the Messiah. In Luke, the crowd responded to his teachings by asking him some questions.
“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, and whoever has food is to do likewise.’” Luke 3:10-11
Does this mean we can only have one set of clothes? No, we can have more than one change of clothes, but it is a call for us not to keep more than we need. In contrast, our children likely have an abundance of clothing – much more than they need or actually wear. Help your children identify what clothes they genuinely wear.
Helping children think Biblically about their stuff means navigating the extremes between having too much and having way too little. Encourage them to give unneeded clothing away. Educate your children about the cost of clothing, not just what you spend but the cost to God’s planet and the working conditions in which their clothes are produced. By choosing to dress with a smaller and more intentional closet of clothes, we are being good stewards of God’s planet.
We are called to give of our excess to others.
The other lesson learned from Luke 3 is that we are called to give of our excess to others. The world will tell us that we need more and more. When we look at the life of Christ, we see that his focus was not on the accumulation of wealth or things but on transforming the lives of others. Jesus didn’t have lots of clothes or toys. Buy choosing to live simply, and with less, we can share more with others. Looking at Jesus’ life is always a good idea when helping children think Biblically about their stuff.
Less is more.
God turns the rules of the world upside down. To lead, we are called to be servants. To win our lives, we are called to lay our lives down. The same truth is found in the understanding that less is more. The fewer clothes we have, the fewer clothes we have to fold. Clearly, the fewer toys we have, the fewer toys we have to put away. God has gifted us with a fantastic world to explore and be our playground. The less time we have to spend on things, the more time we can spend in God’s creation and with others. In the end, we are not storing up treasures for ourselves here on earth but heavenly treasures.
Our identity in Christ, not in our stuff.
The labels on our clothes do not define our worth and value. Our status is not determined by how much stuff we have or how cool our things are to others. Furthermore, the Bible tells us that moths can destroy and thieves can steal all the treasure that we have stored up for ourselves. What can’t be taken from us is our identity as sons and daughters of God. Indeed, the task of teaching our children to look past the outward appearance of others also takes place within themselves.
Security is from Christ, not our stuff.
Sometimes, we store up our stuff because we find security in the things that we gather around us. This is a false sense of security. All these things can be taken away in a flash because of a natural disaster, theft, or financial disaster. Life has so much uncertainty. The only certain thing is a relationship with Jesus. When helping children think Biblically about their stuff, they need to know that our real security comes in trusting Jesus to provide all that we need. This is such a valuable faith and life lesson. Equipping our children with a healthy relationship with their stuff from early on can lay an excellent foundation for faithful living.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21
The Spiritual Challenge of Clutter
Helping children think Biblically about their stuff is a challenging task. We live in a consumerist world in which they are encouraged to accumulate more and more things. Satisfaction and security are found only in Jesus Christ. The challenge of helping children think Biblically about their stuff is that they aren’t just going to look at their own clutter but at yours as well! They will ask the hard questions that you ask of them – to you! This is the joy of discipleship as we redeem two generations for Christ by humbling living out our faith in relationship with our children.
P.S. When you are helping your child downsize their stuff – use a black trash bag.
(Even if it is the stuff that is going to a charity or another home.) Trust me; black bags are so much better than white bags – you can’t see through them!
Ready to tackle clothing clutter? Read my article about The Blessing & Curse of Hand-Me-Down Clothes. You can find more reading about minimalism and kids on Joshua Becker’s website. Minimalism might not be your goal, but there is still much to be gain in his article: How to Become a Minimalist with Children.