I just discovered that March 2 is one of those obscure holidays that sound made up by a third-grader: Old Stuff Day. Apparently, it’s about not saying or doing the same-old-same-old and doing something new and different. (In keeping with the spirit of the holiday, maybe someone should rename it New Stuff Day.)
Jesus has his own version of Old Stuff Day, except his is for a lifetime.
Don’t be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.” (Luk. 12:32-33)
Instead of the same old view of this verse, I suggest that Jesus intended something different:
1.) While most people have assumed that the kingdom of heaven is primarily about dying and the hereafter, it’s primarily about life to the full here and now. Jesus offered a new vision of kingdom living in joy, value, and enduring significance. He brought the treasures of life down to Earth.
His gospel is all about a rich, new life—about new wine bursting old wineskins, a new patch tearing away from an old garment. The verse about selling possessions is only one of his many encouragements to get rid of old stuff and to embrace new stuff.
2.) Selling or giving stuff away for its own sake doesn’t magically make anyone holy. It isn’t a rule that Jesus imposed, but rather, an exercise to strengthen a growing inner wellness. Doing it just to look good or because “Jesus said so” misses his point.
It’s about putting off the old man and putting on the new—“to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God…” (Eph. 4:23-24) Again, “you have taken off your old self…and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of [your] Creator.” (Col. 3:9-10)
3.) Jesus didn’t tell everyone to sell their possessions; and he didn’t mean that possessions are worthless or that you must sell every single thing you treasure (including Great-grandmother’s china and Grandpa’s gold watch) lest you harbor greed.
Neither does it necessarily mean to sell everything at once. Seeking and finding is a lifelong kingdom adventure with God. It’s a process. Selling possessions is simply one way to express a new spirit and rich sense of being.
So, one tip to help reduce a negative, old spirit is to hold a garage sale (or a series of them) and donate the money. Or just give the stuff away. The idea is to let go of old clutter and junk.
On the literal, physical side, it makes room in your house, re-discovers forgotten treasures you want to keep, helps others, and reduces fire hazard. On the spiritual side, it makes room in your soul-house, re-discovers forgotten treasures you want to keep, helps others, and reduces fire hazard.
You could put a heavy dresser or sofa out in the yard with a sign: Free. You Haul It Away. If you’re worried that someone might steal it, so what? That’s the thief’s problem—one of those pointless “worries of this life” that backfires by stealing joy and peace of mind.
And for all you know, the thief is just poor, not evil and greedy. The point is your own spirit and well-being; so if you can meet someone else’s need in this small way, why ruin it with worry? A new way to view it is that he would actually have done you a favor while you did one for him. You will have provided a “purse” for yourself that you can fill with lots of good stuff; and no moth or thief can touch you.
But not everyone is financially in a position to part with possessions. If that’s you, no need sweat it. Nothing kills joy and peace faster than imposition; and Jesus came to lift burdens, not impose them. (That’s one of his chief complaints against Pharisees.)
So you could, for example, give away your right to be mad at someone by bowing out of an argument. That’s as much a possession as any heavy piece of furniture. Or try giving yourself some slack if you normally beat yourself up. Now that’s a treasure!
A new you starts with a new view of value in your life. God sees it, and He wants you to see it, too. That means getting rid of old junk in whatever form it takes. “Behold, I am making everything new!” (Rev. 21:5) Renewal isn’t just a one-time future event or an obscure March holiday, but an ongoing process that’s currently underway!