There are numerous television shows about hoarding and the number is predicted to increase. Why do people hoard? Another growing business is storage facilities. People do not have enough room so they pay for storage to store their excess belongings. Sometimes it is necessary but most of the time it is just because we have accumulated too many possessions. Is it greed? Why do we do it? Do we not want to let go? We do the same thing with our finances, afraid to let go and give back to God. You may have heard the famous anecdote about how people catch monkeys in India.
“Long ago, an insightful hunter figured out that monkeys are selfish creatures, so he created a method of capture that takes advantage of that nature.
First, the monkey hunter cuts a small hole in one end of a coconut – a hole just big enough for the monkey to fit his hand in – and ties a long cord to the other end. Then he puts peanuts, banana chunks, or some other enticing treat into the hole, places the coconut in the monkey’s path, and sneaks away, holding the other end of the cord. Inevitably, an unsuspecting monkey comes along, sniffs out the treat, and wriggles his little hand into the hole to grab the treasure. With that, the hunter’s job is done. All he has to do is yank his side of the cord, and the entire monkey/coconut kit and caboodle lands at his feet.
But isn’t something missing here? Why wouldn’t the monkey just pull his hand out of the coconut and run for his life? Remember that monkeys are selfish. Once they get their hands on something they want, they won’t let go. With his fist wrapped around the goods, the monkey can’t get his hand out of the hole. If he would just loosen his grip and let go of the bounty, he could save himself. But he clings tightfisted to what’s “his” and finds himself ensnared… even unto his own demise.
It’s easy for us to see how ridiculous the monkey is being. If we were sitting at the edge of the jungle watching the scenario play out, we would scream, “Let go! That little fortune isn’t worth your life!” And yet back in our own corner of the world, we are guilty of approaching our money and possessions the same way the monkey approaches those peanuts and banana chunks. We hold on too tightly! We want what is ours, and we want it so badly that we are often blind to the consequences of our grasping.” (Maximize, Searcy, 75-76)
Author Gary Thomas observes, “One of the greatest spiritual challenges for any Christian is to become less self-absorbed. We are born intensely self-focused. We are born keen on self-preservation and self-promotion. Despite the seeds of generosity that may be in our hearts, we – and the people in our congregation – are prone to approach life with a hoarding mentality. We want to be secure. We want to get all we can. We are focused so intently on our “treasure” that we don’t see the hunter lurking behind a nearby tree.” (Maximize, 76-77)
How can you and I begin to change this mentality? How do we open people’s eyes to the truth of God’s plan for their provision and their giving?
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6: 19-21)
It starts with you and I…