Saturday, November 10, 2007

# 226: The Most Rampant Lifestyle?

We don’t very often hear it mentioned in the negative, or accuse anyone, at least in public or to a person’s face. It has been mentioned in this blog numerous times, but since it is one of our most natural inclinations, it would be worthwhile for all of us to be confronted again about its deadly outcome. The reason we don’t hear it often mentioned is because it has been given so many positive disguises/attractive euphuisms. In fact, it, most likely, is an intricate part of our human makeup, and was necessary for our survival when we were no more than cavemen/women. It is mentioned frequently in Scripture but avoided like a plague as a teaching by "holy" clerics.

It is a common word known as GREED. Webster defines greed as: "excessive desire for getting or having, esp. wealth; desire for more than one needs or deserves."

Greedy: "wanting or taking all that one can get, with no thought of others’ needs; desiring more than one needs or deserves."

Let us attempt to understand where greed comes from and why it is so prevalent. I am certain there are many answers as to why greed is the “in thing” in this modern world. Let us examine a few. The main reason is because greed and wealth—which are usually close partners—are thought of as being synonymous with wisdom and intelligence. Who doesn’t want to be wealthy as a display of their smarts? Only a fool would say, "not me." Wasn’t it the wise man of his time, Benjamin Franklin, who said we should seek to be “healthy, wealthy and wise”? Isn’t that what all the world is seeking? Isn’t that why most high school students are encouraged to go to college? Are there many, if any, who don’t desire to enjoy an easy life? This list can be endless. The only thing is, wealth, an easy life, the good life, and freedom from want may lead to a path of greediness, with no thought of others’ needs.

It is totally natural to desire security from want and hard times. Only thing, there is a fine line between having our needs met and greed. Saving for a rainy day is one form of greed. Our silence in not exposing how we really feel about others (“Hurray for me and boo for you”) is another form of greed. No matter how we live, greed is constantly beckoning us to come to the best and biggest party in town.

There are several degrees of greed: small-time, big-time and in- between. The majority of us are small-time, while the big-time are the wealthy and the super-wealthy; either way, it is all greed. I am certain the vast majority of us who claim to be Christians would deny that we are greedy. But if we truly and honestly examine our deepest inward desire, which is next to impossible, we would see greed in every corner of our lives. That is the way we humans are. Some wealthy "christians" may even make the pretense of being generous (philanthropists) by giving to the needy and worthwhile charities to make themselves believe they are not greedy. But most often, at the end of the day, the one who inspires greed will outsmart them.

One reason greed has gotten the best of many Christians is because it seems every other church, especially Evangelicals and conservative Christians, are preaching a message of prosperity (material and financial). What these people have done is to circumvent the word “greed” by giving it many appealing and enticing euphemisms. The apostle Paul puts it this way:

1 Thessalonians 2:5-6. "You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up (disguise) greed—God is our witness." Paul is saying it also is easy to flatter people with pleasant-sounding words. That is the major type of message preached in many churches.

Christ-like prosperity—which is a holy form of poverty—is what we must be striving for: where we store our riches as treasures in heaven. James 2:5. "Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?"

What much of clergy has done is to combine the worldly and spiritual prosperity into one. Why should the parishioners not believe their honest and loving pastors? They tell it just like it is! Sure they do! Ha-ha. The gospel the majority preach is a gospel of greed, in the name of Jesus Christ. How many Evangelicals would openly admit they are greedy? I can speak for them since I have been associated with them in the past; the answer is not one.

I believe it is only natural for atheists to be greedy; since they are not under Christ’s law, greed cannot condemn them since they are already condemned by unbelief in Christ as Lord and Savior of life. Why shouldn’t they be greedy? John 3:36. ". . . but who rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him." They make their own rules. The reason I am saying this is because this post is not aimed at them, but only at those who claim to be genuine Christians.

The problem originates when some ungodly action that doesn’t seem ungodly—and there are multitudes—is not classified as sin; that is when it becomes widespread and deadly; repeating, for the simple reason that it doesn’t look as if it is a transgression against Christ’s law. Greed fits into this category with flying colors.

Then we have to ask, Why are we greedy? Other than being a large part of our sinful nature, it displays our spiritual emptiness. The more we are filled with the security and works of the Holy Spirit, which are goodness, love, obedience, etc., the less we will have the need to accumulate worldly wealth for whatever reason.

Greed by itself is sinful, violating the command "Love your neighbor as yourself," making a person parsimoniously stingy. But the greatest harm is that it can cause people to become silently proud and secretively boastful. This is where God’s jealously is revealed. All our pride and boasting must go to God. Who is greater than Him? Greed can, in one way or another, make people wealthy. And it is the wealthy who rule the world, which belongs to the Lord. And they rule it so they can become even wealthier, while ignoring the downtrodden and common people. It gives them a posture of success and influence. That is another reason God draws lowly, weak, poor and despised people to believe, love and obey Him. Listen to this rather lengthy piece of Scripture that many have never heard of or have simply ignored:

1st Corinthians 1:27-29. "But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him." This type of thinking does not sit well with modern Christianity. This is the category this author fits into.

Other than for the reason to save for a rainy day, the reasons for greed are wanting to be looked at as a success in life, and most often wealth makes people demand respect and honor. When people who claim to be "christians" are claiming success because of all they have accumulated, they become pillars in their community and are looked up to by many and possibly even the whole country. Thus, they become models for other wannabe wealthy (greedy) Christians. That is one of the main reasons why God condemns greed, other than not sharing one’s good fortunes with others in need. In stronger words, how can one have love for the less fortunate (love your neighbor as yourself), repeating, which is the second greatest command, and be greedy, regardless of what euphemism one uses to describe it? They are in total conflict with love for our neighbor. It can be said that even an active desire to want more than one needs (attempting to grasp greed by the throat) may lead to destruction.

I am certain there are many reasons for greed, again, which are not called greed, but are the pleasant trappings of our “me-first” culture. When we get caught in greed’s grip, it is not very easy to be freed. Greed is addicting; the more one has, the more one wants. In fact, it might be impossible to escape from.

Since many Christians may not be aware of the fact that greed is condemned by God, let's bring out what is said in the Word of God. Isaiah 57:17. "I was enraged by his sinful greed; I punished him, and hid my face in anger, yet he kept on in his sinful ways."

Matthew 23:25: "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence."

Mark 7:21-22: "For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly." Did you notice how greed was compared with many other grievous sins?

Luke 11:39-41 is similar to Matthew 23:25, but adds a little more . "Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. . . . but give what is inside the [dish] to the poor, and everything will be clean for you."

Luke 12:15. "Then he said to them, ‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.’"

Romans 1:29. "They are filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity."

Ephesians 5:3. "But among you there must not be a even a hint of sexual immorality, or any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people."

Colossians 3:5. "Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry."

2 Peter 2:3. "In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up."

2 Peter 2:14. "With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed."

1 Corinthians 5:11. "But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother [Christian] but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler." This is a tough one.

1 Corinthians 6:9-10. "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God."

1 Peter 5:2. "Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers--not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; . . ."

Enough is enough; even though there are many more verses in the Old Testament, I believe you get the message on greed as God and Christ see it, and how we must view it.

In conclusion, a few ending thoughts: The question remains, How could Christianity have gotten so far off the mark from what is commanded in the Holy Christian Bible? Are we too far gone to the point where we can never conform to the principle of actual love for God and our fellow man/woman? I hope and pray not. Please remember this: Any form of greed contradicts any and all types of genuine love, except the love we have in word alone. And with all the desperate needs in this world, what right do we as American Christians have to possess more than our immediate needs? It is no wonder why many other religions and atheists can see through our hypocritical ways. They have good reasons not to join in our self-centered way of life. And one thing that could help us to get on the right track is to somehow recognize our greed as the sin that can send us to the place where God does not exist, and PRAY that God gives us an active desire to do something about it. If we desire to be with Almighty God and Jesus Christ for eternity, we must not believe what the majority of churches are teaching or not teaching, and conform to God’s way while in this life, regardless of how ridiculous His ways may seem to the unregenerate. God’s ways are also openly revealed in this blog. If this post is wrong or exaggerating any part of greed, please leave a comment.


Anonymous said...

It's good to know that someone is out there who has his/her finger on the pulse of reality! God Bless You

JC said...

Thanks much for your generous comment. I know there are a few disciples of Christ who subscribe to this blog, but why they remain mostly silent I can't figure out. Thanks again, let's keep up the good work. Yes, and may God continue to bless you also. jc

Anonymous said...

I'm guessing they remain silent because they are listening and agreeing. They're saying Amen to themselves!!

JC said...

Thanks for your encouraging comment. I think you are correct, at least I hope and pray you are right on. God loves to bless us, for the simple reason that He desires the very best for everyone. Only thing, unknowingly, many of us will not be able to accept His blessings because of how we live.
May God continue to bless you. jc

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JC said...

jc said,

It is absolutely necesary to be connected with God through His Holy Spirit. When that takes place, one will be inundated with what is needed to live the Christian life as is dicated in the New Testament. jc

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