In our past conversations we’ve talked about how God is a God of wholeness and how He has called us to be whole, just as he is whole (Matt. 5:47). We’ve demonstrated that scripture clearly substantiates this notion. In our last discussion we talked about the first step on our journey to wholeness. The initial step we identified and expounded upon is the need to be totally sold out to God. This means absolute total commitment to His call to wholeness, holiness, and personal transformation.
The second step in our journey to wholeness is what we call “dealing with your stuff.” The word “stuff” means many different things depending on the source. One source defines “stuff” as inward characters, qualities, or capabilities, while another identifies it as unspecified qualities required to do or be something. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language defines “stuff” as the material out of which something is made or formed.
The defeat of God’s people at Ai helps shed even more light as to the nature of “stuff.” In the Biblical record Joshua cried out to the Lord because God’s people had gotten whipped by the armies of Ai. Answering Joshua, God declared that their defeat was because one Israelite had transgressed His covenant. He identified the man as Achan, who had taken some of the accursed things. God said he had both stolen and deceived, and he had put it among “his own stuff” (Josh. 7:4-11).
Here, in the original language the word “stuff” means something prepared or any apparatus. RHK Webster’s College Dictionary defines apparatus as the means by which a system functions. A second source defines it as any complex instrument or mechanism for a particular purpose. Collins English Dictionary defines apparatus as the means by which something operates.
First, putting the various definitions together we could say that “stuff” is the inward unspecified material that forms certain qualities or characters of an individual’s personal psychological make-up.
Then, drawing upon the biblical definition, we could also identify “stuff” as a complex system or mechanism that functions or operates for a particular purpose.
Thus, we could identify “stuff” as the internal spiritual, emotional, and psychological energies that emerge and manifest through one’s personal attitudes, choices, behavior, and lifestyle. We could also say that “stuff” refers to the psychological apparatus or mechanisms that individuals develop to keep themselves from dealing with the fears, pains, or challenges of reality. Therefore, I would say “stuff” pertains to any perception, belief, emotion, or psychological or spiritual obstruction that keeps us from the fullness of God’s call to wholeness.
In Galatians, Paul presents a list of behaviors which we cannot categorize as “stuff,” but rather are outward indicators of that “stuff” does exist in the deeper regions of the human mind. He calls these behavioral indicators works of the flesh:
Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Gal. 5:19-21)
So there is an association between what Paul calls the flesh and what we are calling “stuff.” The flesh refers to the self-centered and psychologically needy core that all of humanity has inherited from Adam, which was activated at the fall. When an individual embraces the salvation of the Lord this core is still full of the unhealthy and defiled stuff we’ve accumulated since the time of our conception up to, and even sometimes beyond our initial salvation.