(Photo by Selma Komisky)
Toss, Keep, Donate
By Christina Lopez
Have you ever seen a house that belongs to a hoarder? I once walked through a hoarder’s house covered in the clutter the owners had amassed. The sight overwhelmed me with all the visible neglect. Just like that house, our relationships can also become horribly neglected. How we treat others and how they treat us might be something we avoid thinking through. We may treat each other carelessly and pile up things like anger, filthy language, even lies, between us and the other person. Those things have got to go! There may be good things in our relationships that need to be kept, like kindness or humility. If you have a relationship you care about, don’t neglect it! Let God be your Declutter Counselor in this new year. Colossians 3:8-17 provides a great launchpad for those things we carry in our relationships that need to be tossed, kept, or even donated to others around you. So, role up your sleeves! Let’s get started.
The “Toss” Box: Colossians 3:8-10
What should we toss out of our relationships? “anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language… Do not lie to one another…” If you are angry with someone for a small or even deeply hurtful reason, hand over your anger to God. He will not fail you. He will be as merciful to you as you are asking Him to be to that person. Then, don’t let things pile up between the two of you only to explode or abandon the whole relationship altogether. However, if they are behaving in a sinful or abusive way toward you, it is time to back away from them. Remember, the hoarder only makes things worse when they refuse to let go of the garbage and rotten things. The same goes for filthy language and lying to each other. If you really want to declutter relationships, be okay with letting go of those things that are destructive in your life. Let God bring in those relationships you never knew you could have!
The “Keep” Box: Colossians 3:12-15
Now that we’ve made some new open space, we have room for some of the beauty God has planned for us! He directs us to put these kinds of things in our “Keep” box: “tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourself with love which binds us all in perfect harmony.” Decluttering our relationships makes space to build true, lasting relationships! When we’ve tossed out anger, we have room for mercy- tenderhearted mercy. This kind of mercy comes from the heart of God flowing through us to another person. We can also keep kindness in our relationships! If you have run out of kindness, ask God! He will bring in what you need! The same goes for humility, gentleness, patience, and love. If it’s not there to “keep”, allow God to work that into the relationship through you.
The “Donate” Box: Colossians 3:16-17
This is a pretty special box. Unlike the “Donate” box you fill from your closet and never see again, this is a box you also get to enjoy. These verses tell us, “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” We need to let God’s word dwell among us richly by reading it and living it out! Then we can “donate” to each other by encouraging each other in it. As we do, we will build lasting relationships. With this box, we give to others God’s word and worship Him together, donating His love to those around us!
Decluttering relationships is so much more than this. Whatever you do to declutter, line it up with God’s word. He can breathe new life into the relationships you have, set you free from harmful ones, and bless you with lasting ones full of His love.