We Are Not Defined by Our Stuff

“Greatness is not found in possessions, power, position, or prestige. It is discovered in goodness, humility, service, and character.” – William Arthur Ward

It’s sad how consumerism is on the rise and affected our society. Even here, in the Philippines, it has influenced one too many Filipinos.

The recent massive flooding here in Olongapo City is a testament to that.

Visiting the houses of families victimized by the flood, I was reminded by how too much stuff is not a luxury – it’s actually a burden, a liability.

I don’t want to offend anyone, and I’m saying this with absolute care and humility… but if only they hadn’t had that much stuff, then they would have had an easier time evacuating their homes and focusing on making sure their families are safe.

I remember seeing a George Carlin video about stuff. He said, “And when you leave your house, you gotta lock it up. Wouldn't want somebody to come by and take some of your stuff. They always take the good stuff. They never bother with that crap you're saving. All they want is the shiny stuff. That's what your house is, a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get...more stuff! Sometimes you gotta move, gotta get a bigger house. Why? No room for your stuff anymore.”

It’s funny how people invest too much time, money, and effort on acquiring stuff – forsaking friends and family just to be able to get more stuff!

Consider some of these disadvantages in having too much stuff:

1. Makes us anxious. When you have a 40 inch plasma TV, a blue ray player, an Xbox, a giant ref, 5 desktops, and ancient china figurines collection at home, wouldn’t you be worried someone might steal them? If you have less, you don’t have to worry about theft, fires or floods because you can easily replace your stuff.

2. Stresses us. The time and effort to dust, clean, store, organize, and maintain stuff takes a toll on us – body, soul, and spirit.

3. Drains our finances. And, oh, have I mentioned the time and effort to dust, clean, store, organize, and maintain stuff takes a toll on our wallets, too?

These are just three, and there are many more! But do you need more?

What if all we own are only the ones most meaningful to us, and ones that we do really enjoy? Wouldn’t that be incredible?

My point is:

We are not defined by our stuff!

We are defined by our relationships.

We are defined by our priorities.

We are defined by our contribution to the growth and greatness of others.

Stop loving the things of this world too much, because all these result in temporal happiness.

Let’s think and prepare more for eternal things, those that are not affected by moth and decay.

The only purpose worth fulfilling and spending our time and attention with are those that will outlive us.

Matthew 6:19-21
New International Version (NIV)

Treasures in Heaven
19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.