If stuff-ism were a religion, the local self-storage rental facility would be the place of worship. In America today, there are 1.7 billion square feet of self-storage space for rent. Most of the sites run at a consistent 90% occupancy with an individual monthly fee of around $90.

Why do people rent self-storage units? Because two bays of their three-car garage are full of stuff they can't live without? The guy across the street from me has a two-car garage full of old furniture, a couple of broken-down bicycles, several stacks of boxes, and an array of stuff he couldn't sell at a garage sale for ten cents. The garage is so full of junk (that's what it looks like to me) that he must park his $41,000 Lexus on the street. Wanna bet he has a storage unit?

My son helped a neighbor move some stuff from one house to another. She had a rental unit where she stored her deceased mother's washer and dryer and other stuff. He told me that one of the appliances didn't work, and the other looked tired. He told me, "She has been paying rent on the unit for over three years. For the money she paid on rent, she could have her kitchen and wash-room full of brand new appliances with cash to spare."

I call this disease or religion or disorder, Stuff-ism—the belief that the more you have, the happier you'll be. John Mark Comer, in his book titled, The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry, calls it "the gospel of America." (P. 179-180)

Don't you hate it when you read a book, and suddenly you realize the author is talking directly to you? Yea, me too. Mr. Comer's words caused me to make a big mistake: I counted my stuff. I went through my house and counted clothes, furniture, kitchen wear, and other items throughout my little 3-bedroom townhome. When I stepped into my two-car garage, I gave up counting. How do you count Christmas decorations and all the other stuff crammed into a dozen or so of those big plastic boxes where we store all the stuff that's supposed to make us happy.

Who was it that taught, "life does not consist of an abundance of possessions?" Answer: Jesus (Luke 12:15). Those heart convicting words are preceded by, "Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness." Ouch. I sat down and had a little talk with me: "Ron," I asked, "How can six boxes of unknown stuff sitting in the garage make you happy?" My answer was clear: They can't, but they sure can make me miserable. My conscience screamed silently into my heart, "It's too late for you to guard against covetousness." I needed no judge or jury to proclaim me "guilty as charged."

It hurt to admit I am living out a lifestyle that I decry as dumb, wrong, and even sinful in my written and spoken words. Even so, every night at bedtime, and every time I leave my house, I lock my doors. Why? So no one will steal my stuff.

From personal experience, here's what I know about stuff-ism:

Stuff-ism makes us envious. Whatever my neighbor has, I want one of those or maybe two or three.

Stuff-ism makes us crave – that is, we obsess, lust, or have an inordinate desire for something we don't have at the moment. Many relational and financial mistakes are made out of envy. Many a man has suffered from truck-envy; at least I do every time I see some guy driving a brand new F-150 Ford King Ranch pickup.

Stuff-ism makes us jealous of those who have more than we do. We begrudge the success of others, and our friendships turn into rivalries. My wife and I had to deal with this issue a few years ago when our good friends built a lovely home on a lake and retired with a comfortable income. Know what I'm talking about?

Stuff-ism is how you keep score, and those who have the most stuff and the best stuff win. My house, my clothes, my phone, my lifestyle, my landscaping, my vacations, my youthfulness, my degrees, my awards, my this, my that, and the next thing I must buy (or charge to my Visa card) become the expression of my religion, the pursuit of my happiness, and the visible proof of my worth.

Comer says in his book, "Shopping is now the number one leisure activity in America, usurping the place previously held by religion. Amazon.com is the new Temple. The Visa statement is the new altar. Double-clicking is the new liturgy. Lifestyle bloggers are the priests and priestesses. Money is the new god." (P180)

He then points out that the only God that Jesus "ever called out by name was Mammon – the god of money. Because it's a bad god and a lousy religion." I really believe this: When stuff is your god, there is never enough. When God is your god, He is enough. But I have a tough time living it out.

Stuff-ism makes you think the more you have, the happier you are. It's a big lie and a lousy lifestyle that can lead you to poverty. Don't let life's temptations (the unnecessary necessities we want more of) steal your money, break your heart, and leave you broke.

Author's Bio: 

Ron Ross is an author of 9 books, speaker, publisher, and co-founder of PowerfulSeniors. He lives in Loveland, Colo USA