…I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.
— Philippians 3:8
I had always heard of house-hoarders — that is, people who hoarded belongings until they had so much “stuff” in their houses that they had to walk on top of it all or forge little trails to get through the maze. I even watched a TV program about hoarders, and I was horrified that anyone could live with so much garbage in his or her home.
Watching this hoarding experience on TV was mind-boggling to me. But then a relative needed help moving from her home to a new house. When I walked into the old house, I was stunned by what I saw. It was exactly what I had seen on the television program, if not worse. There were piles, piles, and more piles of goods that still had original tags on them, plus ceramic items that were stacked high on shelves. The wallpaper was falling off the walls, and there was a huge nest of mud daubers living in the corner of the living room! The only way to get from one part of the house to the next was to walk a tiny little corridor that had been left between the mounds of trash that had accumulated over the years. If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I would never have believed that a human being could live in such squalor.
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The outside of this relative’s house was no better. Rather than throw away old magazines, she had stacked them high, one on top of another — and they were rotting into a “wall” of magazines that surrounded part of her property like a barricade. It was truly beyond anything I had ever witnessed.
Hoarding. That’s exactly what this dear relative had been doing — just like the hoarders I’d seen on TV. Only now it was my job to remove it all so that the house could be put on the market. Honestly, it would have been easier to bulldoze the house and start all over than to try to get the old one back into shape. I had never seen anything like it.
Some people’s spiritual lives are like that. Rather than deal with issues and keep their lives clean and clear, the spiritual rubbish just keeps building up, deeper and deeper, until it seems almost impossible for them to clean up and put themselves back into working order. They have so many piles of unforgiveness, bitterness, and other forms of spiritual garbage that they can barely make it from one room to the next in their “house.”
When people hoard — or refuse to let go of — things like fear, doubt, jealousy, bitterness, and envy, their spiritual lives become a mess! Their lives can eventually be compared to those houses we see on TV in which the wallpaper is falling off the walls, the electricity doesn’t work right, the sink in the kitchen is a slimy, wretched mess, and rodents and all kinds of other pests live in the midst — right along with the person who lives there with them!
When I saw this unbelievable mess at our relative’s home — something I truly thought only existed in fantasy TV programs — I was speechless. There is no way a person can be healthy in his or her mind and emotions, and think that way of living is acceptable. It brought my mind to Philippians 3:8, where Paul uses the word “dung” to describe his life before Christ. He says, “…I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.”
The word “dung” is the word skubalon, and it is the word for refuse. To be more pointed, it refers to things like a half-eaten corpse, filth, lumps of manure or human excrement, or food thrown away from the table and then left lying around, piled up on the floor as it rots. Skubalon would be a sickening sight that would tend to make one want to vomit.
When I saw how our relative was living in such chaos and squalor, I realized that it is impossible to live a normal life under such wretched circumstances. And when Paul used the word skubalon, which depicts this very type of scene, he was admitting that all he had done before he came to Christ was nothing more than a skubalon pile of rubbish; it was spiritual defilement. That may sound harsh to say, but that is precisely the word that the apostle Paul used to describe his life before He came to Christ. In the end — after Paul came to a saving knowledge of Jesus — he recognized that his entire life until that time had all been rubbish, with nothing worth saving. But after Paul came to Christ, he was set free from the spiritual garbage of his past and his life was cleansed and set apart to be used of the Lord.
As we approach the end of the year, I want to ask you: Are you living in spiritual squalor — or are you abiding in a lifestyle that gives glory to Jesus Christ? Many people pile up grief, resentment, bitterness, and other things that block their ability to function normally for the Lord. What about you? Are things as they ought to be in your spiritual life? It’s something for you to really think about today!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, I confess that there is spiritual trash in my life — and I’ve just tolerated it and let it grow deeper and deeper. Help me recognize it for what it is and begin the process of removing it from my life. You can’t use me as You wish if I’m surrounded by piles of squalor. So I ask You to help me, Holy Spirit, as I start the cleanup process so I can function freely and clearly when You have a job for me to do!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I confess that I’ve been a spiritual hoarder — letting things build up in my life that hindered my effectiveness. I repent before the Lord for letting this buildup of spiritual refuse take hold in my life. If I’m going to be used mightily of Him, I have to keep my heart and soul clean, so today I commit to making this a serious endeavor in my life.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- Can you think of areas where you’ve allowed yourself to hoard attitudes that are unproductive to your spiritual life? If yes, what are you going to do to start changing this mess in your life?
- To be honest, when hoarding has already begun, it takes a very serious commitment to bring things back into order. Are you willing to make the kind of commitment that is required to bring order back into your spiritual life? God will help you, but you must turn and commit your way to Him.
- What is the area in your life that gives you the most trouble in discarding spiritual “refuse” that isn’t good for you? Can you name it?