There is a popular Netflix show where people are called upon to rid themselves of material possessions that clutter their lives or otherwise burden them. When considering a possession, the Japanese-based professional organizer asks, “Does it spark joy?” If the answer is yes, the item is kept and becomes part of a person’s future. If the answer is no, the item is disposed of and becomes part of a person’s past. Clients are instructed to keep only those things that contribute to one’s current happiness. For everything else, there is appreciation but recognition that it does not belong.
Not only has the show become a cultural phenomenon, but the organizer’s book has sold more than 8 million copies in 40 languages. In simple terms, Marie Kondo instructs people to shift their mindset — to focus on what one wants to keep rather than what one should discard. She states, “A lot of people hit a roadblock because they feel they have to throw something away, but that’s not the point. It’s about understanding what needs to go versus what’s important to you.” (Interview with Marie Kondo published by Aaron Hicklin in “The Guardian,” December 30, 2018) People who follow her advice with material possessions typically express a sense of joy, calm, and well-being.
Jesus teaches us by example to similarly shift our mindsets in a spiritual sense. In other words, Jesus teaches that we should shift our priorities away from those things that do not contribute to a meaningful relationship with God and focus on those things that do. Rather than asking ourselves whether the things we do “spark joy,” however, we should consider whether the things we do please God?
“So Jesus said, ‘When you have killed the Messiah, then you will realize that I am he and that I have not been telling you my own ideas, but have spoken what the Father taught me. And he who sent me is with me – he has not deserted me – for I always so those things that are pleasing to him.” (John 8:28-29)
When we live our lives in a manner that pleases God, we experience a sense of joy, calm, and well-being in our spiritual life. When we live our lives in a way that does not please God, we do not.
“It isn’t really sacrifices and offerings that you really want from your people. Burnt animals bring no special joy to your heart. But you have accepted the offer of my lifelong service. Then I said, ‘See, I have come, just as all the prophets foretold. And I delight to do your will, my God, for your law is written upon my heart!” (Psalm 40:6-8)
“And so, dear brothers, I plead with you to give your bodies to God. Let them be a living sacrifice, holy – the kind he can accept. When you think of what he has done for you, is this too much to ask? Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but be a new and different person with a fresh newness in all you do and think. Then you will learn from your own experience how his ways will really satisfy you.” (Romans 12:1-2)
“God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, then prophesy whenever you can – as often as your faith is strong enough to receive a message from God. If your gift is that of serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, do a good job of teaching. If you are a preacher, see to it that your sermons are strong and helpful. If God has given you money, be generous in helping others with it. If God has given you administrative ability and put you in charge of the work of others, take the responsibility seriously. Those who offer comfort to the sorrowing should do so with Christian cheer. Don’t just pretend that you love others: really love them. Hate what is wrong. Stand on the side of the good. Love each other with brotherly affection and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy in your work, but serve the Lord enthusiastically.” (Romans 12:6-11)
One has only to read the Bible and pray in order for God to reveal how you may please Him.
In pleasing God, your actions will spark spiritual joy that you will find no other way.
Photo Credit: Article Written by The New York Times‘ Katie Rosman