The Effects of Hoarding Sin (Part 1 of 2)

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hoarding sin

Have you ever watched Hoarding: Buried Alive on the TLC channel? It’s quite something, isn’t it? Not only that a person could amass that much stuff, but also that they’re often so attached to all that rotting mass of possessions, that they don’t want to let go—even when faced with severe consequences like eviction.

And yet, I see a reflection of myself sometimes in the hoarding tendencies of each person featured. Not only in terms of physical clutter, but also in spiritual clutter (sin).

For all the ways God has purified my heart, it seems there are many more less-than-righteous behaviors that I cling to. And plenty of those things I may not even realize, until the Holy Spirit brings it to my attention.

See, it’s quite possible for us to hoard sin the same way we hoard possessions. We cling to selfish ways, like judging others, gossiping, closing our hearts to those in need, and so forth. When Jesus (as the hoarding counselor) comes along and encourages me (as a hoarder) to give up that pet sin, I balk and make excuses. Ideally, I should open my hand and immediately let go of that stuff, but like the hoarders featured on the show, it may take a lot of time and convincing for me to see the light.

Can you relate?

Maybe you feel weighed down by certain bad habits and/or impure motives. You may want to, say, be less money-focused and more generous with the resources God has given you. Or maybe you need to stop swearing, and replace those stinging words with kind and gentle ones. But you haven’t done it yet.

But just as a reformed hoarder feels liberated when they finally get rid of their excess junk, you and I will experience great freedom and joy from giving up sinful behaviors!

For this post, part one of two, I just want to focus on the negative effects of hoarding sin. Next week, in part two, we’ll talk about identifying those behaviors that need to be purged, and how to go about freeing ourselves from that burden of sin.

hoarding sin

Toxic Effects of Sin

If you’re familiar with hoarding, either on TV or having experience it firsthand, you’ll recognize these effects. Whether it’s hoarding possessions (which can be a sin unto itself), or hoarding sin, the consequences are very similar.

  • Distancing from God :: It’s a given, that sin separates us from God. We run from him because we want to do things our own way, and also we’re ashamed of our sinful behavior. But, God is never far away! And just like the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32, He runs to meet us when we repent and turn back to him.
  • Discord in relationships with family and friends :: So many hoarders have fights with family members over their hoarding problem, and you can always see how much discord it causes. Not to mention, there is so much shame, a hoarder tends to not allow any guests to come into their home. Likewise, hoarding sin can cause rifts in relationships, as the person tries to hide their sin, or make excuses for it. Even just spreading gossip or speaking unkindly about others can cause trouble. If you talk bad about one person, how does the friend you’re speaking to know that you won’t talk bad about her when she’s not around? If she feels she can’t trust you, she won’t want to confide in you.
  • Defensiveness :: To keep up a sinful habit, requires constant defense. A sinful person may be always ready for a fight, either to justify the behavior to themselves or others, or prevent anyone from taking it away (like flushing all their cigarettes down the toilet). Which can only be stressful and exhausting.
  • Living among filth (and all the consequences thereof) :: Just like with hoarding stuff, a person clinging to sin gets used to living among filth. They become desensitized to it, and don’t see how bad the situation really is. They fail to even realize how unhappy and unhealthy they actually are.
  • Neglect (of self, family, pets) :: A person may be so caught up in sin, that they don’t even realize how neglectful they’ve become. It’s similar to an alcoholic or drug user who leaves their young child to fend for themselves while they (the parent) are off getting high. When someone is stuck in a selfish habit, they are so pre-occupied that they forget to care for their loved ones. For example, a spouse who spent all day playing video games, may forget that s/he promised to cook dinner, or pick up dry cleaning, or bathe the dog.

Lately, God has been showing me how I often (if not always) fail to consider the experience of others. It’s so easy to pre-occupied with my own life, and neglect to show concern for others. I’m trying to remember that it’s not just about asking “how are you?” (forcing the words out of my mouth). It’s really about being concerned for someone else’s well-being, asking what is going on in their life, and really listening and being supportive.

What area of your life has God shown you that He wants you to change? Letting go of sin, and adopting better, Christ-like habits of love, is a constant life-long process. Next week, in part two, we’ll talk about how to let go of that “junk” cluttering your soul, and set yourself up for success in cultivating love-filled new habits.

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