Lessons from a Shredder

Last night, I finally finished the overhaul of our home financial records that I began two weeks ago. To suggest that I’m not the most organized person is an understatement. We have a two-drawer fire file that was jam packed with receipts, canceled checks and paid bills from 2005 to the present that weren't so much "filed" as crammed crammed together waiting for someone to let loose the shredder.  And that's what I did. Along with the receipts and bank records that I needed to keep were all kinds of useless things that were there just because I hadn't taken the time to throw them out...

  • Owner’s manuals for appliances we haven't owned in ten years. 
  • CD-ROM’s of software that won't run on our computer 
  • CD of classical music (I think it came with a copy of TurboTax). 
  • A 3-year warranty on a dishwasher we just replaced (after 10 years) 
  • Proof-of-Purchase info for things I had forgotten I ever owned 

Not everything I discovered was such junk. I did find (stuck in a old folder of computer documentation) the original 1977 copy of our wedding certificate! That one I kept. But much of the stuff discovered is so worthless that calling "junk" doesn't do it justice! All of those manuals, sales receipts and warranty cards represented purchases of things that at one time were sources of great joy or at least great relief. Buying the new microwave and dishwasher that allowed life as we knew it to continue. When did things that we at one time knew to be optional luxuries suddenly become absolute necessities?

What this exercise in my lack of the spiritual gift of organization reminded me-- we spend a lot of time accumulating things that don't really matter all that much... things that won't matter at all ten years down the road. Jesus words in the Sermon on Mount came back to me as I was sitting there in front of the shredder destroying all the old records that were at one time brand new—

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. (Matthew 6:19-21) 

God expects us to be good stewards of the material things with which He blesses us.  And there is certainly nothing wrong with buying a new dishwasher or microwave. But we had better make sure that we are storing up much of our material stuff in a format that won't get old or shredded. Brand new shiny things always quickly become rubbish unless we use them to the glory of God. When we use our stuff to bless the lives of others, then we convert our material things into a format that will last forever, and we create a record that the shredder can never touch!

17 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life. (1 Timothy 6:17-19)