“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Matthew 6:19-21 (NASB)

The recent Marie Kondo craze has got me thinking. In case you are not familiar with her, Marie Kondo has a decluttering method that is very popular as many of us seek to minimize the amount of junk we collect and hold onto. One of the things she says is to only hold on to the things that bring you joy. For a long time now, I have desired to be relieved of the complexity of life dominated by “stuff.” However, despite how wonderful it is to unload stuff I no longer need or use, I still find myself struggling with wants and desires for “things,” and it is so easy to slide back into that mindset of “I need this!”

Do you have “treasures?” What are they? Do you wish for a bigger or newer house? A better car? More money in the bank? The latest kitchen gadget? A better cell phone? More crafting materials? We lust after other kinds of treasures too. Approval, acceptance, love, just to name a few. Unfortunately, our desires for these things can quickly turn to demands of the heart that we willingly compromise our beliefs and our Christianity to gain. We think they will bring us joy, but instead, we find misery and bondage.

You will know you have crossed the line between wanting and idolatry when you are willing to sin to get what you want. Jesus says we cannot lay up treasures both on earth and in heaven; no one can serve two masters. Even if your demand-desires are not for material things, they can still be idols or functional gods. An insistence on being obeyed because “I am the boss” or demanding someone to show you love or attention to meet your perceived needs can also be idolatry. If you are serving yourself, you are not serving God, and if you are worshiping yourself, you are not worshiping God. There will be little joy in your life if you are not worshiping God, despite getting what you want.

If you are like me, you may not think you are serving two masters until you are well down the path of idolatrous living. Sin is so insidious and the Devil so slick that one day you come to your senses and wonder how you got in the mess you are in. Thank God for repentance and the ability to change!

Thankfully, our faithful Father never fails to remind us that overcoming the flesh and denying our sinful desires is possible because of our union with Christ. Practically speaking, this union demands that I tend to my relationship constantly through prayer, meditating on His Word, memorizing Scripture, and applying what I learn! God graciously uses His Word to lead us to conviction, repentance, and change. It requires that our thoughts be focused on what will glorify God, our desires turned toward what will worship God, and our beliefs settled in what His Word says about who we are in Christ. Knowing all this, we must live it. It requires the denial of and destruction of the flesh, which is often very painful. It is a form of tearing away from the grasp of the world and, because it is intentional, requires submission of the heart and will to the Lord. When you take these steps, you will find your joy returning amid the pain!

Are you willing to take a hard look at your own heart and ask the Lord to do a Marie Kondo-type work there? Would you examine your thoughts, beliefs, and desires for idolatry? If so, be ready for some discomfort and also tremendous joy!