Beware the list

greedStudying through Romans is a humbling effortespecially when we are forced to come face to face with our own hypocrisy.   Check this out:

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 sinand 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 greedwe 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 othersothers who are really more like you/us than we want to admit.

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3 thoughts on “Beware the list

  1. My greed and understanding that it is a HUGE hurdle in my personal walk of faith is without question one of the biggest reasons I got so involved with Advent Conspiracy. I need constant reminders that what I have isn’t mine. It is only by the grace of God that I’m the idiot standing in front of a church making a fool of myself holding a goat instead of the man on his knees praying for one to provide for my family.

    All my hard work is nothing if it doesn’t have a purpose for the kingdom.

    All the things I “earn” in life are nothing if I lose track of how Jesus saved me from receiving the punishment I truly earn!

    Greed and pride are hard for me…. I have no desire for drugs or alcohol. But money, power, success and status oh those are sins I fight daily.

  2. It’s seems obvious to see that greed is idolatry in retrospect, like the scripture says. I should have been able to see that it is hard for people like me who have the ability to obtain more than they need to get into the kingdom of heaven, or even to live life truly to the fullest. I too have gotten pretty good at changing what I call it to a more acceptable name and then ignoring it. Thanks for highlighting it here in this blog and taking the time bring up the topic in conversations.

  3. Maybe it is easy for American Christians to equate capitalism with godliness, as if the Parable of the Talents were a direct command from God to multiply our resources until we are all sitting — and feeling justified and satisfied! — on our bags of gold! But we forget that the gold belongs to the Master and not to us, the servants. When the Master returns, how will he charge those of us who have squandered HIS resources by spending them instead of merely hiding them?

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