Lessons from an Estate Sale

“Estate Sale” the sign stated. We followed the directions on the sign and pulled up to the house. Walking through the front door my wife and I found everything laid out for sale, everything. It seemed that all of the couple’s material existence was there, including partly used containers of shampoo and conditioner displayed for sale in the bathroom.

It felt awkward joining a parade of strangers strolling among the artifacts of a couple’s lives. We had never met the former inhabitants of the house, but their possessions told us a lot about them, their taste in furniture, wall art, and reading material. Hints of their hobbies were scattered about. Their preferences for personal hygiene items, cleaning supplies, and cooking spices were apparent. By the time we made a tour of all the rooms with all the items on display, we felt we knew a fair amount about the former occupants of the house. Everything was there except for the couple to whom it had all belonged!

It was a reminder that all the possessions which we have collected around us, so familiar and so valued to us, will one day no longer be ours. An estate sale, a giant garage sale, a fire, a tornado, or some other manifestation of the unstoppable movement of time will separate us from it all.

I’m not trying to be depressing, though it certainly could be taken that way! I think I’m just being realistic and also attempting to provide a helpful perspective on how to view our possessions.

For a few years (and it is only a few years in the grand scheme of things) we live on earth and in this material world where we need food, clothing, a roof over our heads, a car, a television, a computer…. okay, I’m moving from needs to wants.

A hundred years from now none of what I now own will mean a thing to me. I’ll be in the astonishing presence of God dwelling in His amazing heaven. But in the meantime, while living this life here on earth, I want to enjoy the material things with which God has blessed me, being thankful for it all and being a good steward of it all. I also want to hold on to all of it loosely, so that I possess my possessions but that they don’t possess me!

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Jesus in Matthew 6:19-21


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