My small group is studying the book of James, and although it is one of the most studied and quoted books in the New Testament, this verse seemed strangely unfamiliar yesterday. Something about the phrase "it is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure" really resonated with me for some reason.
Perhaps it is because two Saturdays ago my small group hosted a garage sale in support of an orphanage in Zambia. The night before, I had hurriedly rounded up a few old sweaters and other odds and ends from around my house. I think the only time I slowed down enough to reflect on what I was donating was the time I second guessed whether or not I really wanted to get rid of what used to be my favorite brown sweater. I had almost worn it just that night, but after several minutes of shifting and tugging, I came to the upsetting conclusion that it had officially lost its shape. Into the bin of yard sale goods it went.
The next morning, my treasured brown sweater was one of the first items to go. My first inclination was to stop the purchaser. "Wait! That's MINE!" I had only donated a tiny fraction of what I never use or wear, and already I was clinging to my own discards like a toddler parting with a tattered blankie.
I can think of countless other items that never even made it to the yard sale. They sit uselessly in my closet. Just in case. Maybe one day. I'll need them.
"Your riches have rotted and your garments have become moth-eaten." (James 5:2)
I like my treasure. It's MY treasure.
"You have lived luxuriously on the earth and have led a life of wanton pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter." (James 5:5)
My brown sweater contributed $3 to orphans without food, clean water, clothing, or shelter, while the rest of my treasures rested comfortably in my oversized closet.
"Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments have become moth-eaten. Your gold and your silver have rusted; and their rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire. It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure!" (James 5:1-3)
"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." (Matthew 6:19-21)
*Disclaimer: The book of James convicted me to examine my own heart. In no way do I want to minimize the generosity and unselfishness of my friends. They donated to the garage sale with such thankful excitement that we were able to raise over $300 for the orphanage in Zambia. I am so grateful for friends who challenge me to place my treasure in heaven.