November 28, 2008

Keeping and Throwing Away

Ecclesiastes 3:1-14

There is … a time to keep and a time to throw away.
Ecclesiastes 3:1,6


If you want to get a lively discussion going with a group of friends, toss out this question: “What things should you keep and what things should you throw away? Some argue for hoarding all kinds of old stuff. They don’t want anything of potential value cast into the dumpster. Others like to keep even their storage rooms tidy. Their motto: “If in doubt, throw it out.” “keepers” often act as though their stuff is a precious source of their security. “Throwers” often behave as though the old has little value when compared to the new.

The writer of Ecclesiastes invites us to a sense of balance. “There is … a time to keep and a time to throw away.” We can better understand that word of wisdom in the light of the stages of life. For all of us, there is an accumulation phase. Young adults, just establishing a home, are often amazed by how many things they need to run out and buy! But older adults often find that they have moved to a divesting stage, when things that hold meaning are lovingly passed on to children, grandchildren, or friends.

We’ll do well to seek God’s wisdom as to when it’s time to hold tight and when it’s time to let go. God promises discernment to those who ask from him (see James 1:5). At every stage of life, a reverence for God will help guide wise decision making.

O keeper of us all, help us to know what we should keep and throw away. Help us to see that the relationships in our lives—especially with you—are most valuable. In Jesus, Amen.

About the author — Harvey Brink

Rev. Harvey Brink has retired from active ministry in the Christian Reformed Church, having served congregations in Michigan, California, Iowa, New Jersey, Illinois, and
Washington. He and his wife Maxine live near their children and grandchildren in western Washington.

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