A. W. Tozer on the Blessedness of Possessing Nothing


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“The Blessedness of Possessing Nothing”

Before the Lord God made man upon the earth He first prepared for him by creating a world of useful and pleasurable things for his sustenance and delight.  In the Genesis account of the creation these are called simply “things.”  They were made from man’s uses, but they were meant always to be external to the man and subservient to him.  In the deep heart of the man was a shrine where none but God was worthy to come.  Within him was God; without, a thousand gifts which God had showered upon him.

But sin has introduced complications and has made those very gifts of God a potential source of ruin to the soul.

Our woes began when God was forced out of His central shrine and “things” were allowed to enter.  Within the human heart “things”  have taken over.  Men have now by nature no peace within their hearts, for God is crowned there no longer, but there in the moral dusk, stubborn and aggressive usurpers fight among themselves for first place on the throne.

This is not a mere metaphor, but an accurate analysis of our real spiritual trouble.  There is within the human heart a tough fibrous root of fallen life whose nature is to possess, always to possess.  It covets “things”   with a deep and fierce passion.  The pronouns “mine” and “my” look innocent enough in print, but their constant and universal use is significant.  They express the real nature of the old Adamic man better than a thousand volumes of theology could do.  They are verbal symptoms of our deep disease.  The roots of our hearts have grown down into things, and we dare not pull up one rootlet lest we die.  Things have become necessary to us, a development never originally intended.  God’s gifts now take the place of God, and the whole course of nature is upset by the monstrous substitution…

There can be no doubt that this possessive clinging to things is one of the most powerful habits in the life.  Because it is so natural, it is rarely recognized for the evil that it is; but its outworkings are tragic…

…  The ancient curse will not go out painlessly; the tough old miser within us will not lie down and die obedient to our command.  He must be torn out of our heart like a plant from the soil; he must be extracted in agony and blood like a tooth from the jaw.  He must be expelled from our soul by violence as Christ expelled the money changers from the temple.  And we shall need to steel ourselves against his piteous begging, and to recognize it as springing out of self-pity, one of the most reprehensible sins of the human heart.

Father, I want to know Thee, but my coward heart fears to give up its toys.  I cannot part with them without inward bleeding, and I do not trying to hide from Thee the terror of the parting.  I come trembling, but I do come.

Please root from my heart all those things which I have cherished so long and which have become a very part of my living self, so that Thou mayest enter and dwell there without a rival.  Then shalt Thou make the place of Thy feet glorious.  Then shell my heart have no need of the sun to shine in it, for Thyself wilt be the light of it, and there shall be no night there.

In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Aiden Wilson Tozer (1897–1963)

A. W. Tozer is widely regarded as one of the deepest theological thinkers of the 20th century. He is known worldwide for his prayer-bathed way of speaking pithy truth and introducing people to God. Tozer was a man of integrity. He lived simply, committed himself to lifelong learning, and drank deep from God’s Word. Tozer’s poignant writings typically lead people to worship and weep in conviction.

Related Bible Verses

“No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? ~ Matthew 6: 24 – 25 (NLT)

NOTES:

  • This quote (including the prayer) is from “The Blessedness of Possessing Nothing,” a chapter in The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer ( Camp Hill, Penn.” Christian Publications, 1982, 1993), 21, 22, 27, 29, 30. You can read his book online here.
  • The biography of A. W. Tozer is a quote from A. W. Tozer seminary.
  • Cluttered basement image is in the public domain on Wikimedia Commons.

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