Isaiah 5: 8 – Woe to you who add house to house and join field to field to field, till no space is left and you live alone in the land.
1 Timothy 6: 10 – For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
In the previous two posts, I have talked about institutionalized sins that cause misery for virtually all poor and middle class people around the globe namely, usury and paper money. I mentioned that if we abolish or outlaw these two practices more or less economic problems in our era will be reduced significantly. However, to outlaw these practices is like to cure the symptom but not the disease itself. These practices are merely different manifestation for certain evil contained in human heart. GREED.
The antithesis of greed, which is laziness, is condemned everywhere. It is discouraged in virtually all public and private institutions including school, company and family. But for all its bad reputation, the effect of laziness is not too significant. In the worse case, lazy person will starve himself and his family to death and that is the end. In contrast, greed causes poverty to many people through exploitation, damaging relationships, creating wars and oppression, destroying nature and countless other evils.
But strangely, despite all harms done to their species human being around the world are still thinking greed is normal and even encouraged. Initially, I found it a bit strange. Why is it so? Why is laziness so universally condemned but not greed?
In my opinion, it is because the effect of laziness can be immediately perceived by perpetrator whereas greed is not. The effect of greed is only felt by the victims and not perpetrator. In fact, the greedy people prosper at the expense of his victims. Most of the times, you need legal entities (courts, police and army) to punish greed whereas laziness does not need that since it is self-destructive.
So, what should we do to counter greed? Since it is embedded inside our human nature to accumulate more and more possession and to improve our life. And somehow despite all improvements, human are never satisfied with that and even willing to sacrifice other people for their desire.
For me, I prefer to look at Parable of Rich Fool told by Jesus Christ in Luke 12: 13-21:
Parable of the Rich Fool
13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”
14 Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” 15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”
16 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’
18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’
20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’
21 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”
In this parable, we are told that a person put his effort to accumulate material stuffs (In this case, food). He convinced himself that he will be happy for all material possessions he has. However, there is only one big problem with that thought: Abundance of material possession cannot help human to escape death.
Yes, you heard it. Death.
We will bring nothing of our material possession with us when we die. So, in this sense, I can say greed is irrational. Why do people accumulate something which cannot be used up by the time he die? It will be more reasonable for us to focus on doing something which can be brought when we die.
Wait a minute, you may ask. What are the things that can be brought when we die? I thought our body will rot in the ground and nothing left from us?
Not really. Luckily.
Our Lord, Jesus Christ told us what we can bring to the afterlife in Matthew 6: 19-21:
Treasure In Heaven
19 Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Yes, you heard it. You can accumulate treasure in heaven where there is no decay and destruction. For every good conducts of the saints (e.g. good people) that are not rewarded in this world, they will be rewarded with treasure in heaven. The reverse is also true for evil people. All evil conducts that are not punished in this world will be punished in hell.
So, what kind of good conducts should we do? There are several things that are mentioned in Bible that will be rewarded. For example, if we sacrifice our family and convenience to spread Good News it will be rewarded in next life (Matthew 19: 29). We also will be rewarded for feeding the hungry and thirsty people, visiting sick people and prisoners (Matthew 25: 31-46).
So instead of foolishly spending all of our time to accumulate material possession on the earth, we should be more involved to do good, give and serve other people. It will be better for society and also better for ourselves in our next life.