the good way

Money, Clothes and Possessions

Session 4 • Simplicity & generosity • Activation


Jesus talks more about money and economic issues than anything else in the gospels. The New Testament consistently warns about the dangers of wealth. In Matthew 6, Jesus says that we cannot serve both God and money.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Whatever your treasure is will take your focus, your energy, your time and your trust.

In the early church, there are a number of occasions when we read that the sole purpose of earning more money was simply so that you had more to give away. The reason for acquiring money was so that it could be shared with those in need.

“Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with your own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.” Ephesians 4:28

What we see in the New testament is this combination of criticism regarding wealth and possessions and also this invitation to a carefree, almost lighthearted attitude toward material things.

When I was growing up, I heard this advice related to money:

Tithe some, spend some, save some, invest some, give some.

Take a moment to consider your relationship to money and bring that into conversation with Jesus.

  • What do I typically spend my money on?
  • How do I go about making those decisions?
  • Where do I feel a sense of competition regarding my finances?
  • How available are my finances to God or to others?
  • What is my perspective on tithes and offerings?


Jesus also addresses clothing. When he sends out his disciples, he instructs them to simply go in the clothes the are wearing, with no additional supplies. In Matthew 6 Jesus says:

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.”

I wonder what Jesus would say to us today in the midst of our image obsessed culture?

In 1 Peter 3:3 Peter forbade the braiding of hair and the wearing of robes amongst believers. Now, obviously Peter was speaking a very specific word to his time and culture and at that time this attire and image was the signature of the wealthy and elite so Peter said no, as followers of Jesus we are going to intentionally strip back any signs of ostentation and dress simply.

Spend some time thinking about your clothing and bring that into conversation with Jesus.

  • What is my relationship to the clothing I wear? ‘Who’ do I dress for?
  • Are there any guardrails I have in place related to what clothing I purchase, what I get rid of, where I shop and how I make those decisions?
  • How much do I consider the impact of my choices on the earth or the people who made it?
  • What is my relationship to make up or beauty products? How much reflection do I give to why I use those products? Does my relationship with beauty products bring joy and freedom or stress and complication to my daily life?
  • What might it look like for me to limit my choices with regards to my image or my wardrobe?


Most of us have so much stuff! Apparently there are more self-storage facilities in America than there are McDonald’s restaurants. Often, we buy cheaply or compulsively and then in true New York style, we leave it on the sidewalk when we’re moving or simply don’t want it anymore.

The practice of simplicity is not about the rejection of all material things, simplicity just puts material possessions in their proper place. Gandhi said it like this: “You may have occasion to possess or use material things, but the secret of life lies in never missing them.”

God has given us many good things to enjoy and there is nothing wrong with having possessions. What we are trying to notice is where we find undisciplined impulses or cravings related to spending, consuming and accumulating.

“Simplicity is the only thing that sufficiently reorients our lives so that possessions can be genuinely enjoyed without destroying us.” Richard Foster.

Spend some time in prayerful reflection about your material possessions.

  • Could I be content with less stuff?
  • What could you live without and not miss?
  • How many of the gadgets, possessions or appliances I own have actually made my life freer or more joyful?
  • Which of my possessions do I feel overly attached to and why?
  • What feelings arise when I contemplate giving those away?


Sometimes it can feel really overwhelming to begin decluttering or simplifying our lives. That’s why it’s important to invite the Holy Spirit to draw your attention to the best place to start and go slowly and prayerfully. Maybe it could be as simple as starting with your purse, or bathroom cabinet.

You could start by asking questions like:

  • Do I want/need this?
  • Do I like this?
  • Do I use this?
  • Do I have multiples of this item?
  • Could I do without this?

When it comes to getting rid of things, we want to resist the temptation to just throw it into the trash. Ask yourself if it can be disposed of in any of these ways:

  • Can I give it away to someone? (friend/neighbor/thrift store)
  • Can I fix this/make this usable for someone else?
  • Can I sell this? (stoop sale/craigslist)
  • Can this be upcycled/reused in some way?
  • Can this be recycled?
  • Can this be composted?

Making a Purchase

As followers of Jesus we are invited to relinquish the cultural values that shape our world and to intentionally detach from anything that gets in the way of us desiring and following Jesus. The practice of simplicity creates margin and openness in our lives. It also tries to honor the resources of our planet.

“There are two ways to get enough: one is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less.” GK Chesteron:

Before making a purchase, be intentional about bringing it into conversation with Jesus, rather than instinctively or impulsively adding it to your cart. It may be helpful to reflect on the following questions:

  • Am I purchasing this for its usefulness? How long do I plan to have this? Will the quality of this product enable it to be long lasting?
  • Is this purchase connected to an addiction/undisciplined craving?
  • Can I enjoy this without owning it?
  • Could I rent/borrow/buy second hand?
  • Could someone else share this with me?
  • Is this purchase breeding the oppression of others?
  • Does this purchase honor the resources of our planet?
  • Is this distracting me from seeking God first?

In paying closer attention to what we own, why we own it and what we want to own, we will learn a great deal about what we value. Moving forwards, what would it look like for us to resist living according to trends and to tread a little lighter on the earth’s resources?


You might be interested in watching some of these documentaries related to spending and consumption:

The True Cost



Forks over Knives

View other resources for this session