Question:

My question is: What scriptural references can I use to address a shopping addiction and hoarding in a Christian?

We have addressed the issue with my mother but with no progress so I want to make sure we aren’t missing anything scriptural when attempting to address all of the issues that stem from it all. As you can imagine, other issues arise from addiction and hoarding like anger, hiding things, selfishness, etc. More specifically, the mistreatment of my father because she knows he doesn’t want her angry and he will tell us to leave her alone when she acts that way. I know ultimately she needs counseling, but I doubt she would ever agree to that.

Thanks for your help!

Answer:

"There is a grievous evil which I have seen under the sun: riches being hoarded by their owner to his hurt" (Ecclesiastes 5:13).

Hoarding results from a focus on life in this world. The things we accumulate cannot benefit us when we move on to the next life. "As he had come naked from his mother's womb, so will he return as he came. He will take nothing from the fruit of his labor that he can carry in his hand" (Ecclesiastes 5:15). Typically a hoarder keeps things with the idea that they might be useful in the future. Compulsive buying is often related -- purchasing things that seem to be a present-day bargain for an imagined future use.

The problem is that we don't know what the future holds or how long we will be here. "Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit." Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that." But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil" (James 4:13-16). The hoarder passes up doing good today in the mistaken belief that they will be better prepared in the future. In reality, the hoarder limits his options because his money is tied up in things purchased in the past that never get used.

People who hoard often suffer from anxiety, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorders. Thus, addressing the symptom of hoarding doesn't really get to the underlying cause.

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