Marie Kondo. I’ll bet you’ve heard her name, and there’s a chance you’ve read her best-selling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Maybe you’ve even seen her Netflix series, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. In both, Kondo preaches the gospel of “KonMari”—a system of simplifying and organizing your home by getting rid of physical items that do not “bring joy” into your life. If you’ve no clue about her name, her book, her TV show, or her system, here’s my simplified overview: You stand in front of the clothes in your closet, go hanger by hanger, and ask if that garment brings you joy. If the garment or item does not, then discard it, but only after you’ve thanked those bell bottoms, for example, for their service.
Call me cynical, but I find that to be a bit extreme. I’m also envious that Kondo has, at last count, four bestselling books on organizing your life her way. Some ideas come along at the right time, and hers have definitely struck a chord with millions of people, helping them to get their ducks, or closets, in a row. But Kondo’s idea is not original. See Paul’s words to the Philippians:
Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead,
I pursue as my goal the prize promised by
God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13–14).
The apostle Paul’s approach to spiritual life is by no means the same as Marie Kondo’s approach to your closet. But in some ways, they share the same ballpark, for Paul also advocates for a ruthless elimination of anything in our lives, especially anything in our past, that hinders us from true joy—otherwise known as “knowing Christ Jesus.” Discipline and self-control are non-negotiables in this way of living. In fact, Paul invokes imagery of elite athletes such as boxers and runners in training who strive for nothing less than a win. And Paul’s training advice to us? “Run in such a way to win the prize” (1 Corinthians 9:24).
Like Kondo, Paul has his critics, those who insist such an approach is too extreme. But Paul remains adamant, stressing that those who practice such devotion and commitment experience nothing short of life-changing transformation, an experience that leads to a crown that will never fade away (1 Corinthians 9:25). If there’s anything “behind” us in our lives that does not orient us to the joy of knowing Jesus Christ, then those things are to be forgotten, done away with. This “tidying up,” so to speak, allows us to then be free to reach for and live for God’s goal that lies ahead. No, this has nothing to do with closets and hangers and bell bottoms, but everything to do with our hearts and minds and souls and strength.
Written by John Blase