CHURCH CORNER:Earthly treasures are always at risk

I mailed in my tax payment recently (early, actually) and it made me stop and think about how often we complain about taxes. There’s nothing certain but death and taxes…no tax ever gets taken away, they just add more to them…tax and spend…tax breaks for the wealthy…how can you get tax refunds when you haven’t paid any taxes…have I missed any of the common complaints?

Then I thought about a study of people’s standard of living around the world that noted that 90 percent of the world’s population cannot afford a car. So owning a car makes me one of the world’s top 10 percent, wealth wise. Or seeing that owning two cars runs me even higher up the scale, I wonder why it is that I would argue that I am not wealthy. I have a mortgage payment, I have to work to balance my budget (and one of these days, I will balance it) – so how can anyone confuse me with Bill Gates? I doubt anyone is confused about that, but when I think about the people I have seen in Asia, Africa or Central America who wash clothes in a muddy river, sweep dirt floors, eat whatever is cheapest in the market – when they can afford it – I have to stop and reconsider my perspective. No magazine is ever going to put my name in the list of wealthy notables, but I am so well off that 90 percent of the world’s population would be overjoyed to live as comfortably as I do.

Then I started thinking about the time Jesus said to store up my treasure in heaven, because every treasure you value here on earth is at risk. Thieves steal, hurricanes damage, tsunamis wash it away, inflation lowers its purchasing power, property values drop and stuff gets old and breaks. But if I treasured what can be found in heaven, which is one way of saying what we find when we are in God’s presence, when we live in God’s domain, nothing here could touch it. Nothing here could make it lose its value. And if I really valued God’s ways and longed for God’s ways to change me, to change my way of living, to bring me to the point that I value what God values, I wonder what might change in my attitude about my comfortable life. I wonder what might happen to my way of prioritizing my money management. I wonder what my attitude toward the people around me might be if I valued what God values. If my treasure was with God and not here…I wonder if I might find it much easier to share the comfort, if I might be willing to do with less so someone with nothing might live with more. Because I don’t have to go to Africa to see people who are living with nothing, I just have to open my eyes. And Jesus did say, “Whatever you do for the least of one of these, you do for me.”

By Bruce Thweatt

Enumclaw Community Church

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