by Dr. Randy Carlson
Clutter is more than just a closet that needs to be cleaned out at home. There are deeper issues. A cluttered closet is a problem but consider the challenges of a cluttered mind. That being said, let’s look at five types of clutter. (There are many others, but I chose these five.)
- Mental clutter develops in our thinking. From the very moment we wake up until the very moment we fall asleep, our mind is constantly distracted and caught on things. It’s hard to control our minds, and that’s why I think the scripture spends so much time talking about our minds and about our thinking, because it can be cluttered.
1 Colossians 3 says to “Set your minds on the things above, not on earthly things.” It’s a matter of intentionally deciding how we’re going to think. The apostle Paul says we have a daily opportunity to hold every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5). It’s an intentional decision to actively control our thoughts.
- Emotional clutter arises from the negative emotions we have in our lives. We can carry emotional bondage that can keep us from living intentionally.
Negative emotions keep us from being successful at the things that matter in our lives. It’s just a reality. We live in a fallen world, and if we’re not intentional with our emotions, we can become distracted.
- We miss the mystery of our faith when we experience spiritual clutter.
Sometimes we feel we have to have the answer to everything. We have to be prepared to defend our faith, but that doesn’t mean we always know all the answers, because the Bible says we see through a dark glass, and everything is distorted. But someday, it will all become clear to us. The Bible warns us against “having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away.” (2 Timothy 3:5 NKJV)
- Digital clutter is a huge problem.
A study from the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the average time spent online since the year 2000 has increased from 9.4 hours to 23.6 hours. That’s 3.3 hours a day online. Another statistic states that Americans spend 17.6 hours a day “oogling” the internet. That word has a lustful connotation. It’s like a flirtatious look, and I thought, isn’t that interesting that they’re saying that two-and-a-half hours a day, the average American is flirting online with whatever they’re looking at. Maybe it’s not inappropriate, but there’s almost a flirtatious love affair we have with our computers and online activities.
Technology can be used to free us, to give us a greater sense of intentionality, or it can consume us. Let’s make sure it’s used in a way that really adds value to our lives.
- We all wrestle with schedule clutter.
We can be so busy working in our lives, sometimes we don’t work on our lives. It’s important that we really spend time looking at the bigger issues that face us, our values, our goals and so on.
The Book of Psalms is full of passages that encourage us to hope in God. Hope is something we intentionally decide to do, and we are faced with so many distractions that even experiencing hope can become lost in the mix. If we want to experience hope, to be intentional in trusting God, we must declutter our lives.
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