In Romans 1, Paul speaks boldly of the wrongness of idolatry, which is when we worship and serve created things (images, ideas, possessions, experiences), instead of the Creator. And when we exchange the worship of idols for the worship of the one true God, the inevitable outcome is a life of sin…and he writes a pretty detailed, nasty list for evidence.
There are a number of those sinful behaviors that we love to champion: Murder? Let ‘em fry. Homosexuality? Perverted. Arrogance? Pathetic and self-centered. Greedy? Whoa….
Man, it is so easy to throw stones and judge. But we are doing a different dance with greed.
In the New Testament, greed is a compound word in the original language that means to have more than what you need. It is the love of having. It certainly includes money and possessions, but it can include things like power, prestige, recognition, or even people. And it can lead to even more complicated sins like out-of-control ambition, stealing, envy, and the like. Worse yet, it is something that works its way deep into our soul and we never even notice it.
What’s really interesting to me is rather than abhorring it, we praise it. Instead of running from it, we cultivate it.
Working to have more is a dominant value in our culture. We are taught that a strong desire to have more is part of a healthy drive and motivation. People who work hard to have more than enough are seen as successes and over-achievers worthy of our admiration, not our disdain. Promotions and bonuses and raises and perks are seen as God’s “blessing”…even if we clearly don’t need them.
In the church, we not only accept greed as desirable (though we never really call it greed…we call it hard work, success, and the fruit of our labor), we look for people who have it, in order to fund our projects and salaries.
I’m not just being contrary for the sake of argument. I’m simply encouraging us to stop judging and condemning and labeling those people as…uh…”those” people. Them is us. Maybe you don’t murder, but you probably have a strong desire to have more than enough. It’s all the same when it comes to standing before the throne of God and receiving mercy.
Sin is sin. You can point fingers or you can embrace others…others who are really more like you/us than we want to admit.