Some very smart, but otherwise unidentified, individual once said, "Necessity is the mother of invention." We greatly benefit from that truth. I sit in a lit room under an electric ceiling fan in a house insulated against the cold front that blew in last night. All of those comforts are the result of someone believing that light and temperature control in a dwelling place counted as necessities. I would agree!
Unfortunately for our society, invention is no longer driven by necessity. Instead, superiority drives invention. Every company must find something bigger and better that propels its sales above that of the competition. Other companies constantly strive to "improve" their products, adding this feature or that to convince consumers that they must purchase the newest and best, no matter how satisfied they are with what they already own.
What once was intended to make our lives easier has now become a source of clutter and stress.
Think about it. Modern conveniences and time-saving devices used to truly save time. Electricity meant that people no longer had to work so hard to light and heat their homes or preserve their food. Cars allowed quicker, easier transport from one place to another. Indoor plumbing resulted in less time spent hauling water for cleaning and bathing, and water heaters added even more convenience to the indoor plumbing.
Then it started going crazy. We saw the time we could save. Instead of using that time wisely, though, we started selfishly filling every spare second with more. More productivity. More fun. More "connection." More of what we think we want to do. Do any of us realize that we are more harried, stress, and busy than ever before? Have our time-saving devices really benefited us at all?
I have a lot of these conveniences, and I enjoy them. But, too often I find myself ruled by them. My schedule revolves around keeping them all organized and making them fit into my life. They easily add to the clutter in my home, requiring more time to keep the house clean. Like anything else, having and utilizing these inventions is not sin in and of itself, but when I serve them instead of utilizing them, I commit idolatry. Just in case you haven’t heard, idolatry is sin.
Some days I want to throw them all away. We’ve joked about a return to a Little House on the Prairie lifestyle or moving in with the Amish, but I still consider electricity too beneficial for a drastic move like that! Simplification is still essential, though. In fact, we try to purge once or twice a year (an activity slated to begin this week), and it feels so wonderful!
We will always be confronted with the next best invention. Sometimes those inventions truly are born out of necessity, or at least a more realistic need than simply making more profit. So, in coordination with any regularly scheduled purging I need to train myself to truly look at what is available to me for my "convenience" and ask myself a couple of questions.
Will it save time in my day, or will it just add one more thing that I won’t have time to do?
Will it create more clutter in my home, requiring more effort to keep my home tidy?
Will it help me in my primary purpose on earth, the glorification of God, or will it turn into another idol that leads me away from His glory and into a habit of sin?
Oh how far I have to go with this! How I need to purge and re-evaluate! How I need to pray for guidance not just once as I purge but each and every day as I live in a society of fantastic, time-saving inventions. And how I must be willing to throw it all away if it gets in the way of glorifying my Savior.