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Most of us know people who are richer or have more possessions than we do. We can use that as an excuse to not examine the vice of greed in our own lives. Greed is not a comparison, but it is a vice and temptation that is primarily motivated out of fear. So rather than compare ourselves to others, the invitation is to look inside and see if fear has caused us to be greedy.
There are some among us who don’t have enough food to eat, clothes to wear, adequate shelter or a safe environment in which to raise a family. Your need is great, and you should respond to every opportunity you have to make your family’s life secure in terms of primary needs. But most of us do not exist at that level on an ongoing basis. In fact, most of us have what we need. Check out the number of storage lockers that are being built around our country. Take time to walk through your basement, closet, attic or your storage locker and see if maybe greed has crept into your life in a small or large fashion.
Even though we are aware that all gifts and blessings come from God, we act sometimes as if everything depends on us. We become afraid when our financial cushion gets smaller. We begin to worry about the future and if we will have enough. We sometimes even begin to believe that when someone else gets something, it’s automatically a loss for us. Many of us live out of a sense of scarcity, easily led into the temptation of fear. We can be easily manipulated to see others as competitors for the goods of life rather than brothers and sisters in need of the same things.
Even though we know that true satisfaction, peace and tranquility doesn’t come from things, we often act like it does. “If only this would happen in my life, I could be happy then.” We also know that at the end of life, we only carry with us to heaven our acts of love, not our possessions or power. We know that God has promised that He will take care of us through all eternity, and yet we act as if we don’t really believe that.
Becoming conscious of the choices we make in life calls for some strict observance of our behavior. What does it really take for me and my family to stay alive and to have all of our basic needs met? The question sounds so minimalistic, but an awareness of the abundance we have cannot be realized unless we ask ourselves that question. We have become so used to having the extras in our life that some might call them necessary. Without distinguishing between our needs and wants, we are a sitting duck for those who barter fear in the world today.
There are some great practices given to us in our faith tradition that could help us to become more aware of the abundance that God has blessed us with and a willingness to share that. One of those practices is tithing. It is the practice of taking the first 10% of everything we have and dedicating it to God’s work. The other practice that we have from the Scriptures is what’s called a jubilee year. That is the practice of forgiving all debts and returning all things taken from someone else so that everybody has a chance to have what they need. The practice has fallen by the wayside, but we might be able to pick up at least part of that practice. How is someone indebted to you and how might you be able to release them from some of that debt? How might you be able to lift someone else’s burden? Are you storing up treasures for yourself, or are you becoming rich in what matters to God?
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