Stuff Breaks—Deal With It
If you own a home, you understand the second law of thermodynamics: entropy, the degradation of matter and energy. Yes, owning property is a blessing, be it a home or otherwise. But it is also work. Why? Because everything breaks down.
God created physical material to decay and return to dust. It happens to our homes, our gardens, our vehicles, our possessions, even our bodies. Why did He create matter this way? Because it compels us to care for these things, to preserve and protect them. He wants us to perform regular maintenance.
Our homes need a lot of it—from simple daily tasks like cleaning dirty dishes and dusty floors to heavier maintenance like repairing plumbing and replacing electrical fixtures. Every home needs occasional patching, painting, sealing; landscaping and property need pruning, seeding and weeding.
Note the wisdom in Proverbs 24:30-32: “I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; And, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down. Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked upon it, and received instruction.”
Even a slothful man can come to possess property. Acquiring something might not even require money, and it certainly does not require virtue. Getting isn’t necessarily hard. Maintaining is. The author of this proverb knew this field owner was lazy and ignorant, though he didn’t even meet him. How could he have such insight into this man’s character? Because it was reflected in the state of his property.
Perhaps this field owner was like so many of us today who are so prosperous that we just tend to accumulate more and more stuff. Look around: Is your life full of stuff? For each object you accumulate, you have three options: get rid of it, let it break down, or maintain it.
Many of us probably need to choose the first option more frequently. Don’t just let stuff come into your life and pile up. When you want to acquire something, ask yourself more than just, Can we afford the money to buy it? Also ask yourself, Can I afford the time to maintain it?
When you own something, the duty to maintain it comes with it.
Limit your possessions to what you can take care of. If you can’t afford the time or resources to maintain it, don’t acquire it. Or, if you already have it, get rid of it.
This is not a “throwaway” mentality; it’s the opposite. The throwaway mentality is what leads to acquiring piles of stuff inside a house in disrepair with an overgrown yard. To start, you may need to purge a lot of possessions, to sell, donate or even throw away piles of things you never should have bought in the first place. But once you have done this, build a mind-set to keep and preserve what you have, and to abstain from acquiring something new unless you intend to preserve it.
Colossians 1:16-17 say God created all things, and “by him all things hold together.” Read Psalm 147 for an inspiring homage to the great Sustainer! It shows how detailed God’s work of preserving and maintaining His creation is. God is using the maintenance mind-set to build your character to think like Him! He is Creator and Sustainer. He maintains what He creates.
God “preserves what He creates by His government,” Herbert W. Armstrong wrote in The Incredible Human Potential. “What God creates, He has created for a purpose—to be used, preserved and maintained. And this use is regulated by God’s government. … God is Creator, Preserver and Ruler,” Mr. Armstrong wrote. “Satan is Destroyer!” Little wonder that in Satan’s world, the easiest thing is to neglect maintenance and “just buy another one.”
Reject that mind-set! Think like God, care like God and work like God.
Here are some actions you can take right now to better prioritize maintenance:
Inventory the things you own. Look around: Are these vehicles, appliances, furnishings, housewares you see in good working order? If not, fix it or purge it. Remember, the state of your possessions is speaking loudly about the state of your character!
Print and post a home maintenance checklist (there is a great one available at ArtofManliness.com). Start by taking one step toward learning a new manual skill. Need an idea on what skill to start with? Look around the house to see what’s broken. This will point you to a skill that is immediately needful and will start you in with real, hands-on practice that gets results. Change your car’s oil, fix a leaky faucet, install a ceiling fan, tune your bike, fell a tree, wire a light, lay tile, solder an electronic component, landscape your driveway, plant a garden, or go out to your yard and clear the nettles thereof.
Online step-by-step tutorials and videos are available in abundance, not to mention the how-to section at your local library or bookstore. If you’re still overwhelmed, ask someone you know who is handy. You can even take a course at your local technical college.
Getting comfortable with home maintenance involves more than one project. It is a mind-set that will benefit you for the rest of your life, physically and spiritually. Embrace it!