“When someone steals another’s clothes, we call them a thief. Should we not give the same name to one who could clothe the naked and does not? The bread in your cupboard belongs to the hungry; the coat unused in your closet belongs to the one who needs it; the shoes rotting in your closet belong to the one who has no shoes; the money which you hoard up belongs to the poor.”
― Basil the Great
With all the talk of minimalism and decluttering these days people often forget that there are two sides to the pain caused by the extra stuff in our lives.
First, we must recognize that possessions will not make us happy. They might make us happy initially but only for a short time and then they just take up space and emotionally weigh us down.
The second part of the call to declutter from a Christian perspective is often missed. That extra stuff that won’t make you happy will make someone else happy who actually needs it.
Jesus said of our judgment:
For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.
As you declutter and spring clean and seek to be more minimalist, do not think only of yourself but of the poor who need what you have in excess.
I will look at the extra clothes and possessions I have in closets and drawers and see them not as mine but as property of someone who needs them.
Otherwise, I am a thief.
Thanks to Fr. James Martin who mentioned this quote on the Art of Manliness podcast (though he misquoted St. Basil the Great as St. Francis de Sales).