The Bible speaks more about greed and injustice against those who are poor than any other particular sin. We are the richest country in the world, and we are fooling ourselves if we do not think that the words “to whom much is given much is required” apply to us. Greg was concerned that we not be trapped in guilt; at the same time, we must evaluate our habits and priorities in light of the war zone in which we live.
This month we have been hearing what WHC means when it speaks about reconciliation. Sandra and Paul set the stage for a biblical vision of reconciliation, Dwayne spoke about how racial issues relate to reconciliation and today Greg spoke about economic reconciliation. The beginning and end of this discussion must always be that the Bible speaks more about greed and injustice against those who are poor than any other particular sin. Period. We need to hear this word. We are by far the richest country in the world and we are fooling ourselves if we do not think that the words: “to whom much is given much is required” apply to us. God’s actions towards nations in exactly our position have been quite severe.
Greg quoted these passages from 1 Tim. 6:
“…for we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it; 8 but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. 9 But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.”
As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, 19 thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life.”
Greg was concerned that we not be trapped in guilt which would disempower us from living victorious lives in the joy of the Lord. Guilt is a real threat because here in America, nearly everyone who hears this sermon is indeed responsible to some degree for the injustices we participate in. Not only that, but greed is in the very air we breathe. Capitalism works by encouraging us to be greedy. If we were truly content with the having food and clothing, our social structures would surely be affected. As we see in Paul’s letter above, there is a life that really is life and that life is not being rich in the things of this world but being “rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future.” This future of course, is the Kingdom of God. We see here the words of Jesus playing out, “to whom much is given, much is required.”
As Greg pointed out, we must never forget that in this life, we are in a war zone and beware of the tactics of the enemy: reread verses 9-10 above. Greg pointed out that the dictionary has a great definition of greed: “excessive or reprehensible acquisitiveness.” His points were that our entire economy runs on the push to be “excessive” and this is reprehensible because we are in a state of spiritual war. These resources are needed for the sake of the Kingdom! Greg then offered substantial evidence that most of us Americans are trapped in greed:
- Americans have a standard of living that is 4 times that of the world’s average yet we spend 98% of our income on ourselves.
- The gap between the poorest third of the world and the wealthiest increased fourfold since 1962 (based on GNP’s) and at the same time the help to those nations reduced by a factor of 10.
- Americans overeat more than the two billion who are starving undereat.
- Even though most Americans consider themselves generous, we spend more on EACH of these expenses individually than we do on charity: fast food, porn tapes, movies, vacations.
- Greg’s concluding point was that perhaps one of the best indications that we are trapped is that we rarely preach this, even though the Bible is FILLED with concern for this issues.
God’s command is clear in verses 17-19 above. Greg pointed out that the key to revival is related to these things. When Israel was worshipping God but still forsaking their responsibility to pursue justice for the poor God said:
6 Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
8 Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up quickly;
your vindicator shall go before you,
the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
9 Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer;
you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am.
Do we want to see God’s light break forth in this nation? Do we want to see healing spring up in our land? Do we want to see the Glory of God surround us? Are we willing to choose the fast God chooses?
Hide Extended Summary