James 5:2,3. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have corroded…
In perhaps his most blistering words yet, James plays the grand auditor, sifting through the eternal worth of my life, searching for anything of permanent value. What will he find in me that will truly stand the test of time? Is my life a sum of the temporal wealth I have accumulated or have I stored up treasures that cannot rust?
James asks me to look to the future, for a day is coming when my riches have rotted and my garments are moth-eaten (5:2). We all have a finite amount of time and effort. James’ words audit that time and effort to see where my heart lies. Am I slaving away for money, possessions and shiny toys that will all corrode and decay with time? Or, do I have an eternal perspective that uses my time and effort to pursue that which can never fade away, even in death?
When I pursue my own appetite for temporal toys and wealth, James says I am pursuing my own destruction. Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire (5:3). He could just nicely point out that You can’t take it with you when you die, but that would not be James’ style. He hammers the point home, insisting that I am actually fattening myself up for the day of my own slaughter (5:5). When I make my own pleasures my life-goal, I am pursuing corrosion, rust and decay.
When I pursue God however, I pursue a timeless relationship. When I love those around me and together we pursue the eternal, we are storing up treasures that do not corrode and decay with time. James says I can own the world, but in the end, it will all burn and fade, doing me no ultimate good. In a thousand years, it will not matter one bit if I had a nice house and car. If however, I invest my life efforts in God and in those around me, then I can build an estate of the eternal.