Jesus said: ‘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. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
‘The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!’Matthew 6:19-23
As in our modern culture, Jesus’ first century world was obsessed with wealth. In today’s reading Jesus invites us to consider our priorities. Jesus invites us to consider the value of a life faithful to God as opposed to a life focused on acquiring more and more worldly riches.
Today, many people make a hobby out of window shopping. During the weeks and months of lockdown, that pastime has become even easier to indulge in. Thanks to internet browsing and on-line shopping we have not had to stop acquiring all those ‘things’ that make us feel so good. Of course, we wrap it up in the language of need, but … we are so easily tempted down the path of acquisition and greed, aren’t we!?
My grandmother, who like many of her generation lived through periods in our modern history when there was great hardship, used to have a saying about greed: there are no pockets in a shroud. This simple saying is not a bad summary of what Jesus is saying to us today.
We all want comfortable lives, but that desire can so easily confuse us. Living a comfortable life is not about hoarding as much ‘stuff’ as possible. Living the truly comfortable life is about achieving the balance God wants us to know, and understand, and enjoy. That balance is about putting God first in our lives, even if it means, as we are taught in the Sermon on the Mount, setting aside all that we thought was important.
Our comfortable lives of excess make no sense to so many people in the world. Even that which we would cast aside as rubbish would be classed as riches by the vast majority of our fellow human beings. Why do we struggle so much with this issue more than so many others in our lives?
Today’s challenge is real, and it is important.
Lord, help us to set aside the trivial and the superficial, that we may draw closer to you, the one true God.