As I watched Ukranian refugees weeping, wailing, carrying only what they could put on their backs, including their children, my heart felt beat up and flattened. I was sad and angry about what they were going through, horrified by the ways their homes had been destroyed, but I also felt fearful myself. “What if I lost everything?”
We all know stories about those who escaped fires, hurricanes, or abusive relationships. Almost universally they tell us that material belongings can be replaced, but that what is irreplaceable are their lives and those of their loved ones who escaped disaster.
I know they are right. I would probably say something similar if faced with catastrophe. But the pit in my stomach tells me I am too attached to my home, the clothes in my closet, and everything else I have that the poor might call luxuries and pleasures.
James warns those who have more than they need—probably most of us reading this—that a reversal is coming. A natural reversal will rust our jewelry and break down our linens, but so will a divine reversal wrought by the Lord of Hosts, who will not always tolerate our habits of consumption that steal life from others.
I also see that such habits steal the possibility of life from myself. Will the extra food and drink on my table really nourish my heart? Can those excess possessions really make me happy? Will I be any fuller after emptying the latest Amazon box?
The answer is no, and it comes at such a high cost. I pray for courage to replace the pursuit of earthly treasure with concern for my neighbor and this earth that sustains us. May we replace our attachment to things with relationships that nourish our hearts and our world.
What do you need to let go of?
God, help us release earthly treasure and give you our hearts. Make us mindful of those in need. Teach us to store treasures in heaven. Amen.