Thursday 11 April

5:1 Come now, you rich people, weep and wail for the miseries that are coming to you.

2Your riches have rotted, and your clothes are moth-eaten. 3Your gold and silver have rusted, and their rust will be evidence against you, and it will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure for the last days.

James here echoes the words of Jesus who is quoted in Matthew 6 as saying,

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. (Matthew 6:19, 20)

What is the attraction of riches that rot, clothes that become “moth-eaten,” gold and silver that rust? What is it that drives us to accumulate that which “thieves” can steal?

The compelling force of these tangible “treasures” is that they can be seen; they are measurable. They promise to bestow upon me the gifts of status, power, safety, and security for which my small insecure ego-self still longs.

My larger self of course knows this is an utter illusion. All those external building blocks I use to create my little kingdom and shore up my fragile sense of identity, will all one day let me down. They will all dissolve into dust.

To have “treasures in heaven” is to locate my identity and my hope for security, safety, peace, and stability in a totally different realm. I need to open to an entirely different level of consciousness in which I find my sense of myself, not in anything tangible, but in the hidden inner realm of the spiritual life. Here I am untouchable by those external forces that push me to accumulate wealth, power, status, and the illusion of security by material means.

When I open to this other level of consciousness, I discover that true wealth lies within in the human heart that has found a place of contentment in the midst of circumstances just as they are. To be truly rich is to come to that place where nothing needs to change on the outside in order for me to know within, the deep strength and security of my true identity.