Ven. Ernest Onuoha

Ven. Ernest Onuoha




‘Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also’ Matt. 6:19-21.

One of the things that people in ancient times considered to be an earthly ‘tmreasure’ was fine clothing. It was a sign of great wealth to possess many fine garments just as it is today. And because fashion didn’t change, as quickly then as it does today, you could store-up fine clothing and expect it to be in style many years later. But just as garments are subject to being spoiled by moths today, it was even more so then. Even if someone stored up many fine garments for the future, there would be no guarantee that those fine garments would still have their value when it was time to use them.

And the same was true for other tangible possessions. They were subject to ‘rust’. The word that Jesus uses (brõsis) refers to the act of ‘eating’; and so, it may refer to more than simply ‘rust’. It may refer to the corrosion and spoiling of anything that sits around for a long period of time. It may also refer to the fact that what you store up for yourself will eventually be consumed – even if it is consumed by yourself. No matter how hard you try to preserve earthly things for the future, they will still be subject to rotting and spoiling and being eaten away.

This fact is a cause of great condemnation in the Bible toward those who get rich in an evil way, and who store up earthly treasures for themselves to the hurt of others. The apostle James clearly drew many of his thoughts from the Sermon on The Mount; and among those thoughts was this: Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasure in the last days (James 5:1-3).

Jesus urges us not to lay up treasures for ourselves on earth, where moth and rust destroy. And even if we were able to protect those things from moths and corrosion, they are still in great risk; because earthly treasure houses are places where ‘thieves can break in and steal’. You can store up great earthly treasures for yourself, and spend much of that treasure trying to defend the storehouse from theft; but still, a thief may steal it all.

The point of all this is that earth is not the place to lay up your treasures. Jesus told us the parable of the rich fool. He became prosperous; and so he built great barns to store up all his crops and goods. He said to his own soul, ‘Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry’. He was a very cleaver man in the eyes of this world. He built an outstanding treasure for himself on the earth.

But God spoke to him and said, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ He died and left it all for someone else to squander away. And Jesus warned us, ‘So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God’ (Luke 12:16-21).

Moths didn’t destroy that foolish man’s treasure. Rust didn’t destroy it. Thieves didn’t break in and steal any of it away. But still, he lost it all. And this reminds us that all the treasure that we may store on the earth is always temporary.

Ibru International Ecumenical Centre,
Delta State.

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