As we approach the end of the Church Age the things that really matter become increasingly urgent. Are you save—justified in Christ? Yes? Great, that is really the fundamental thing. But the next question, and it’s becoming more and more crucial as the days darken is this:
What have you done with it?
Are you resting on your laurels as a child of God and sitting waiting for the Rapture? Don’t you dare!
There are many reasons why I say that, but I am about to explain one of them that has become clearer to me more recently. It comes from James 5:3:
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. (NKJV)
This is an interesting verse – some of it makes sense, but the bit about heaping up treasure in the last days seems a bit out of whack to me. He has just been talking about selfish fat-cats who heap up treasure (from 4:13), but it wasn’t in the last days, it was at the time James was writing. So what’s he getting at?
Well, without getting into great detail (but I am happy to take this up with anyone) here is my own translation that, in my opinion, better reflects the original Greek:
Your gold and silver has been made toxic, and this poison shall be a witness to you and will eat your flesh just like the fire that’s stored up for you in the last days.
Ahh… so now this can be seen to have some relationship to what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15:
“According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”
So, with this background, what James is saying to his readers is something like:
“All this stuff that you’re hoarding is poisoning your soul! And though it should be clear to you that it’s destroying you, you continue to pursue it even while it’s eating you up. As it happens, that is just what’s going to happen to you in the final day of Judgement, but that will be with fire. It will burn up the fleshly works you have done!”
This is a stern warning to all of us, and especially if we have the “blessing” of material wealth. Are we using that wealth, those resources that God has entrusted to us to make an eternal difference in someone’s life – or even our own? Are we investing in spiritual blessings, using the material blessings at our disposal? (They are all blessings, as all things come from God’s hand.) Jesus Himself said it best:
“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).
So what kind of works should we be doing with the generous portions we have been given? They must be works of faith (because that which is not of faith is sin, Romans 14:23), and should be characterized by these things:
· Love – because He first loved us, which we accept by faith, and He commands us to love others.
· Self-sacrifice – because we believe that God will provide for anything we need to replace what we’ve used for His sake, as we follow the example of the One who demonstrated the ultimate self-sacrifice for our sake on the cross.
· Prayer – because we trust Him with the depths of our heart because He loves to commune with us.
· Humility – because we believe His diagnosis of our natural sinfulness; that we are no more worthy than those around us.
· Grace – because we accept by faith his word which says that the letter kills, but the Spirit brings life.
· Thankfulness – Because we trust the word of the One who said “It is finished” on our behalf.
· Joy – Because we believe in the blessed hope of His return and that all the suffering will be worth it in the end.
So, the treasures in question are those which have been sent on ahead of us by living through faith in Christ and in the Spirit’s power to the glory of God.
Brothers and sisters, time is running out for this world as it is. Let’s not be distorted by worldly priorities and comforts, and instead realize our battle is against “principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).
It’s heating up all the time and the consequences are eternal – put your game face on!