"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on 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 and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:19-21 ESV
It was a late evening in August and I had slipped over to the new house by myself to finish up some painting in our bedroom. Perched on tiptoe on a five gallon bucket, I stretched to brush green paint around the top of the walls. My neck ached and my arm was tired and my brain busily chewed on the now familiar subject on my mind. Was a new bedspread too much? Was a lovely, antique dresser for a steal really a necessary bargain? Was I adopting the attitudes about possessions that I so much abhored in others?
In the stillness of the empty house, as my paintbrush dipped in the green paint and my neck felt like it may have developed a permanent ache, I heard the whisper in my heart loud and clear: "Next 31 Days writing subject?" Actually, it didn't even have a question mark - it was more of a statement. And after awhile you quit arguing with the whispers and just say, "Ok Lord."
The Bible has quite a lot to say on the subject of riches. According to Google, money is mentioned 140 times in the King James Version. If we include the words gold, silver, wealth, riches, inheritance, debt, poverty and related topics, it turns out the Bible has more to say on the subject of money than it does on prayer, healing, mercy and nearly any other subject in it's pages. Most of it is pretty straight forward, blunt truth.
In spite of that, money is a huge and controversial subject for many Christians. Like so much of Jesus' teaching, money is one of those places where we find our human reasoning to be completely opposite from the truth He teaches.
I thought I knew where I stood on the subject of riches. I thought I stood on sound principles I had adopted long ago. But standing there on a bucket with paintbrush in hand, I found my high held ideas being put to the test. Now I was the one building a new house and how much was too much? Did we really need new appliances? Was it ok to go out and buy all new living room furniture? Where was the line between dreaming of paint colors and beadboard and perfectly matched countertops and floors and the "riches laid up on earth" that Jesus spoke of?
It was one thing to look around at what others were doing and know with clarity where the lines should be drawn. It was quite another story to be the one making the decisions and grappling with the questions. How was this money/possessions stuff all supposed to work out anyway? What did it look like, in real life, to live out the 140 mentions of money in the Bible? Was there a clear 'yes' on one side and a 'no' on the other with a thick black line drawn down the middle? It seemed like that would have made things so much easier but I couldn't quite find a way to make it that simple.
During the month of January I am going to be exploring the subject of possessions and storing up riches in Heaven. I am in the beginning stages of this journey and working on this project has already taken me in directions I wasn't expecting. I have much to learn and I invite your input in my journey!