There’s a lot of talk about greed in our society these days – the greed of the rich, the greed of politicians – even the greed of the unproductive.
We get agitated about the enormity of greed that surrounds (and infects) us; and when it leads to illegal and unethical activity, which it often does, our hearts cry out for justice. Well – ahem – except for our own case. Then we have a few ready rationalizations…
While we might like to think that we live in a uniquely depraved time, in fact, there truly is nothing new under the sun. If we look back through human history, for however many thousands of years, two of the underlying bass notes of the performance have always been pride and greed.
And death. While government will never be able to “fix” greed, there is one sure-fire cure.
Here’s how it was put, many generations ago, in Psalm 49:
Give ear, all inhabitants of the world, both low and high, rich and poor together…Even wise men die; the stupid and senseless alike perish and leave their wealth to others. Their inner thought is that their houses are forever…but man in his pomp will not endure; he is like the beasts that perish…Do not be afraid when a man becomes rich, when the glory of his house is increased; for when he dies he will carry nothing away; his glory will not descend after him.
Stark, yes? And unavoidably true.
When our eyes ascend to the feeble and temporary heights achieved by those who accumulate wealth and power, we often feel a sense of fear, of outrage – and a need to bring them down. But this is because our gaze does not ascend high enough – to a just and holy God who looks with far keener eyes upon the pride and pitiful wealth of men. Rich and poor alike are like a flower in spring – vibrant but for a moment, then soon gone. Not a single greedy, wealthy, arrogant baron who elevated himself a few millimeters above his fellow man in the 1800′s is still around to be feared. And when we look around at the living faces of people in our generation – they, and we, will soon be gone.
God, however, remains – unmoved, unchanged, unsullied by our sin. He is the one to fear. He is the one to depend on. His justice will make things right.
We can’t “fix” greed – all attempts to do so by human means are misguided. We can enforce laws against illegal behavior, but a pure heart is beyond the reach of societal and governmental enforcement.
We can, however, look ahead to the end of greed, and see that it cannot and will not endure. The Lord, our Redeemer, will see to that.
There’s plenty enough for our attention to be cleansed of the greed that infests our own hearts. God can see to that, too.
Recently on Steve’s Free blog: I, Me, My, You