Having looked at the virtue of gratitude last week, today we look at the vice of greed. It is difficult to have a positive discussion of a vice. So imagine this is leg day at the gym. You know it is going to be tough, but if you do the work, it will pay off and be beneficial later on.
 

Reading

Luke 12:15       Jesus said: ‘Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.’
 

Reflection

Our culture has too often bought into the lie of survival of the fittest. Some do this explicitly by celebrating cultural axioms like “Whoever dies with the most toys wins” and “You are what you drive.” However, not only is survival of the fittest not true scientifically but also theologically we understand that it is through cooperation and compassion that individuals thrive within a community. When we live out the lie of survival of the fittest, everything becomes a competition and we become inwardly obsessed. This connects to a concept used by ancient and contemporary theologians described as Incurvatus in se, or “a life turned in on itself.” The best way to describe the idea is using the rather unpleasant image of an ingrown toenail. The further the toenail grows inward, the more damage it does and the pain it causes. If one is not aware of it, and one does not look after it, a toenail could cause serious harm and hurt. This is what greed does, it turns our focus towards ourselves so much, that we lose sight of others, and we end up hurting ourselves. Greed refers not merely to the desire to have more than one has, but the relentless yearning for more and more, often at the expense of others.
 
Jesus instructs us to be on guard and pay attention to greed. Theologian Ruth Anne Reese notes that, “A life controlled by greed becomes a life that is no longer oriented towards God and his priorities. God’s heart is turned towards the widow, the orphan, the stranger, and the poor, but the heart of greed is turned in on itself, seeking out those ways by which it can enhance its status and wealth in the world.” The antidote to such greed is to train ourselves to be content, grateful and generous. We can be those who train our hearts to trust God for our provision and to be outwardly focussed to those in need.
 

Prayer

Gracious God, we thank you that you are not greedy. Thank you that you are focussed beyond yourself, to those in need. Thank you that you are the one who provides and satisfies our souls. Help us to train our desires, directing them towards avenues of flourishing and not greed. Help us to keep our priorities ordered so that we live a life that flourishes and helps others to do the same.
 

Questions

What areas of our world are affected by greed?
What patterns or habits of life are training us in the ways of greed and how do we address that?
 


 

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