Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Another Soul Killer _ _ Greed

For the love of money is the root of much evil

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's goods.

One of the most condemned sins in the Bible is greed. It is condemned in everyone, rich and poor, powerful and powerless, male and female, Jew and Goyim, etc.

What is greed? Is it just wanting more? Not really otherwise you would sin every time you asked for a raise or took a better paying job. Now that can be greed, depending on circumstances, but is not necessarily greed.

Is desiring a good paycheck greed? It depends. Did you earn a better paycheck? That is the question. Greed is wanting something that is not yours or something that you do not deserve or wanting more than you really need. That means you have to make an assessment not only of yourself, but of others as well. Demanding a dollar that you haven't earned or isn't yours is a greater sin than asking for a thousand dollars that you have earned or is rightly yours.

But isn't refusing to share greed? In a Christian and moral sense yes, in a legal sense no. A Christian believes, or should believe, that everything he owns actually belongs to God and God has commanded us to be generous, especially with those in need. But the Bible also teaches that Christians are responsible to meet their own financial needs as far as they are able. I've always believed, and still believe, that a Christian will gladly give to charity and be very hesitant to ever receive charity. (It's noteworthy that Jesus commanded His disciples to give to Charity but never commanded or encouraged them to receive it.) Life or death is one thing but a Christian should always feel obligated to pull his own weight. As God said through the pen of the Apostle Paul If anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those in his own household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. I Timothy 5:8 This passage of course, speaks to a lifestyle of dependency and not the occasional asking a brother to help meet a need. (The precise case of the Greek verb -- present subjunctive -- "to provide" points to a continuous ongoing activity, if it meant they should never ask a brother for help it would be aorist subjunctive case.) I have both given and received such help but we must not tolerate those who are too good to work or feel that such and such a job is beneath them. With those in genuine need or who are truly unable to care for themselves, refusing to share is greed, but for those who do not truly need or are unwilling to assume responsibility for themselves it is greed for them to even ask.

How about CEO's making millions of dollars every year, or even every week? First off I have to ask myself "Am I simply jealous?" and if the answer is yes, and it could well be, then I need to look at my own sin first. Would I turn down such an income? It's easy to say yes when the paycheck isn't in your hand and probably never will be. We all, and I include myself, need to look at our own greed because it is that which is affecting my soul. If a man barely makes poverty level income but shares what he has, he is much more likely to be generous when he has it spare. (Luke 16:10,11). Some wealthy people do indeed just suck in the material goods and fortify their luxury, but I also know some very well off people who are paragons of generosity and I know some poor people whose giving to those in need would shame many middle-classed and affluent people.

One of the reasons that I strongly support religious charities but am very skeptical of state welfare is because I can evaluate whether or not this person is truly deserving of help or I can decide whether or not I can trust a certain person to sensibly dispense the money in God's name. The state does not allow me to evaluate which cases are being helped and as a result some who don't need it are getting it and some who truly do need it are not.


Anonymous tim said...

Just remember Shoprat, 10% belongs to Him, no matter what you make. I just sent $75 to the Salvation Army and $250 to a charity called "Smile Train" that does surgeries in the third world for kids with cleft palates. $250 pays to fix one child's face so that they can live a normal life and not be made fun of this disfirguring birth defect. "As you sow, so shall you reap..."
At my level of income, I should be giving about 75-100 a week. I'm not just going to plop it into the collection plate, though. I want to target things that I am excited about. I also give to the Goodfellows old newsboys fund ( I had a paper route) "No child without a Christmas". They give kids a care package of a coat, jeans, and maybe a toy. It breaks my heart to think there are kids right here in Michigan that don't get a present for Christmas. I wish I did make millions, because I'd give most of it away!

6:55 PM  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

I make a good wage, BUT, I REFUSE to contribute to ANY charity that isn't local. I will NEVER donate to United Way. Ever. I instead pick and choose my local organizations because I can readily SEE what they do and I have at least some kind of INPUT as to where my cash goes.


7:54 PM  
Blogger Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

If anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those in his own household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. That sums it up for me. If you have faith, God gives you whatever you need ("consider the lilies...")

I would call "wanting something that is not yours" covetousness or envy not greed. Greed is hard to define but, when you see greedy people, you know exactly what it is. They are arrogant, selfish, inconsiderate and unloving.

9:25 PM  
Blogger Gayle said...

I like this post, Shoprat. I hate disagreeing with my friend Patrick, but I think wanting something that is not yours is greed as well as covetousness, if "wanting something that is not yours" means wanting something someone else has but you don't have. If it's simply wanting a new car or whatever, then no... I wouldn't call that greed. We can't all drive the same cars all of our lives (although I think I'm trying to). :)

If greed is wanting to own - or owning - more than we need, then most of us are greedy. Who actually "needs" a large tv screen, for instance? It's a pretty difficult concept to define. I don't think I would turn down a large salary. How many of us would?

10:07 AM  
Blogger shoprat said...

Actually there is not a clear border between the sins of greed and envy. There is a considerable overlap in the two.

11:32 AM  
Blogger Jay said...

Great post, Shoprat. Greed is all around, and I have to uproot it from my thinking and actions from time-to-time. It's particularly dangerous because it can sneak up on us so easily - a little greed opens the door for a lot more!

Your post title immediately brought to mind Gordon Gecko's line in Wall Street:

Greed—for lack of a better word—is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms—greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge—has marked the upward surge of mankind.

What a contrast to the life Messiah commands us to live.

8:57 PM  

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