Spiritual Practice


Sally Chambers

I have a friend who decided, with his wife and children, to live out the faith in a practical way. He was not the first friend I’d known to try to live his faith. And I readily admit that until I met him, I thought I did fairly well at living the Jesus way.

pile of clothing isolated on whiteReferring to Luke 3:11a (NRSV), “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none,” my friend said that his family had given away 50 percent of their clothing.

To my friends, the clothes they owned were a spiritual matter. Giving to the poor was a spiritual matter. They had come to understand that living simply and living with less mattered as much to Jesus as belief, prayer, and knowledge of the scriptures.

A few times a year I take a stab at standing in my closet with the purpose of giving away half. I’ve yet to do it successfully. The reason is pretty simple: I’m attached to my stuff. For many reasons, I’ve decided that I need my stuff. Sure, I can fill bags to give away; but 50 percent points at the problems in my practice of simple living and giving. The biggest problem is that my definition of need is not quite the same as Jesus’.

Since the beginning of creation, human beings have struggled with thinking they need more than they do. As a result, we hold onto too many things and form unhealthy attachments to our stuff. Hence the challenge of giving away 50 percent of our clothes—as well as the booming success of the TV show Hoarders and the popular service 1.800.GotJunk.

So here we are, overly attached to our stuff, believing we need more than we actually do, and struggling to live simply and generously. What do we do?

  • First: We own it. We admit that we can’t give away 50 percent of our stuff because we are attached to it. We confess to God that we can’t fix this issue on our own because the issue is much deeper than the stuff. We have created needs that don’t exist.
  • Second: We invite Jesus in. Because we can’t readjust our needs on our own, we invite Jesus to stand with us in our closets. We ask Jesus to help us sort through our stuff, to show us what we need, and to heal our unhealthy attachments.
  • Third: We repeat this practice daily. The stuff didn’t appear overnight, so it’s not going to go away overnight, regardless of how many bags we fill to give away. So every morning when we get ready for the day, we own our attachment to our stuff and we invite Jesus in. What happens when we do this daily is that Jesus begins to change our hearts. Jesus takes our grandiose needs and shrinks them back to where they should be. Day by day, we become less attached, giving more generously and living more simply.


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For 30 days, as you choose your clothes for the day, own your attachment to your stuff and invite Jesus in. Keep a journal. Write down what you notice.

Giving away 50 percent can be overwhelming. Start with smaller steps: Every week, fill one bag to give away. Pay attention to what you notice about your attachments, your needs, and your attitude toward the things and the people in your life.

Sally Chambers wrote this article while sitting in her chair looking into the closet where she stands each day to invite Jesus into her decisions about stuff.

—from devozine (January/February 2016). Copyright © 2015 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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