The Bible is Harsh on Greed!

Greed

Greed (Photo credit: Sam Wolff)

 

When we take a moment to look outside of the inward national perspective that we as Americans have, and view the global economy, those with a conscience are very easily shocked and dismayed at the facts.

Most of what we buy from developing countries is grown or manufactured by workers whose rights are ignored in important ways. Cell-phone components from China, fruit grown in Mexico, and the Indian cotton in your shirt are commonly processed by workers who were not paid minimum wage, who were exposed to hazardous chemicals or dangerous machinery, who were forced to work overtime, or who were prevented from organizing to negotiate changes in such conditions.  (http://www.businessweek.com/debateroom/archives/2007/06/overseas_sweats.html)

It seems that it’s impossible to avoid participating in the products mentioned above and live in our society.  There are factors of greed bleeding out from corporate America that contribute to the problem, and there are factors of injustice, oppression and poverty within the countries that perpetrate these unfair working conditions.

We can react in one of two extreme ways:

We can turn a blind eye and sit back in our comfortable, selfish American squalor and not care.  After all, the stores and companies that bring these products out on the backs of slaves aren’t really at fault, right?  We should just live our lives and do the best we can with what we’ve been given, and impact the immediate community around us, not worrying about our global neighbors.

Or we can react in anger and radical extremism.  Recently my wife Sarah and I watched a movie called “Machine Gun Preacher” about a man who was saved from heroin addiction and a life of crime, and became a pastor and advocate for the displaced children of Uganda.  But he became so involved of the lives of these children that he began to neglect his family, and even his faith.  He became bitter and violent.  He surely was fighting injustice and helping these otherwise helpless kids, but destroyed his own soul in the process.

When I look at the passage, written by Jesus’ half-brother James, in chapter 5, verses 1 through 6, I realize how harsh the Bible is towards greed and materialism.

Come now, (A)you rich, weep and howl for the (B)miseries that are coming upon you.(C)Your riches have rotted and (D)your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire.(E)You have laid up treasure (F)in the last days. Behold, (G)the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and (H)the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of (I)the Lord of hosts. (J)You have lived on the earth in luxury and (K)in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in (L)a day of slaughter. You have condemned and (M)murdered (N)the righteous person. He does not resist you.

I know I am not one to sit as the judge over the world, because the Bible instructs me to to judge those inside the church, and not those outside (1 Cor. 5:12).  So in light of this passage, I will address the church and her leaders.

We in the church do need to care about global issues.  We may not do it perfectly, but we need to try our best to throw our money towards companies practicing worthy business tactics.

And as leaders in the church, in America particularly, we shouldn’t be afraid to be as harsh as the book of James is on the perils of wealth and consumerism.  Anyone who participates in any sort of greed is guilty of perpetuating injustice somehow, even if it may not be overtly.  We need to denounce the spirit of this age that is teaching us to gather and hide as much as we can, while ignoring the suffering.  This indictment cannot be ignored towards the people of God, either.  It can’t be overlooked in favor of keeping the greedy in our pews, along with ten percent of their fat paychecks.  It’s a simple fact that if we want the Lord to be working in our midst, we need to honor Him and His Word in any and every way possible.

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2 thoughts on “The Bible is Harsh on Greed!

  1. I have recently come to understand the seriousness of this sin. I realize this article refers to greed on a larger scale, but my expereince has revealed just how damaging greed is on a personal level. I recently watched a person close to me nearly go insane over money. Greed opened the door to all kinds of evil. I never realized the extreme spiritual dangers that could arise from greed. It alters a person’s consciousness and leads to paranoia and relational isolation. I watched a professing Christian drive away everyone around them for the love of money. Relief only came after supernatural intervention by Jesus Himself and warfare praying by concerned believers.I am serious when I say greed will destroy you.

    • That’s some great and powerful insight Terry. It’s definitely playing with fire for sure, though I wish we all viewed it that way. And it’s important for me to say that I still believe what Jesus said- that it’s the “love” of money that’s the root of evil. I’ve seen many great followers of Jesus help many people with the funds they get- like Rick Warren and Francis Chan who give away 90% of the massive amount of income they get to issues like 3rd World Poverty, sex trafficking and the AIDS crisis in the name of Christ. All that to say- I’m grateful for people like yourself who throw caution to the wind on this one, and are willing to speak the truth!

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