Last December, Jim and I purchased a new Christmas tree. I have a collection of angel ornaments, and we had been missing our “angel tree” after downsizing to one tree for our move to West Virginia. This wasn’t a lavish purchase, but at the time I couldn’t help thinking, “Could the money have been used to help someone else? Could the money have made a bigger difference for another life than a second tree does for us?”
I have become discouraged with the climate of great greed that seems to be so prevalent these days. I want to be critical of the millionaires and billionaires who are looking to make even more money, often at the expense (or while disregarding the betterment) of others. Yes, there is a need for consumerism in order for careers to flourish and unemployment to decrease. But I am sad to consider the many who struggle for simple daily needs, as others continue to amass money and goods while looking for new ways to gain even more.
As Richard Rohr writes of the many who have said, “There is more than enough for our need but never enough for our greed.” ¹
Whenever I become critical or judgmental of the ways of the world, I soon sense that God is asking me how I contribute to the problem.
“Karen, are billionaires the only ones who could be described as greedy? Is there a precise cut-off point- a certain number of dollars- that differentiates someone from having enough to having too much? Would you be greedy only if you reach one million dollars or more? Or would you be greedy if you have a second tree while many others don’t even have one tree- or enough food for today?”
I am guilty. I am greedy. Not only can I be greedy with possessions, at times I can be greedy in other ways. Greedy for attention. Greedy for recognition. Greedy for speaking (more than listening) in conversations. Greedy for the pizza slice with the most cheese. I know I can be greedy even in ways in which I am not aware.
Instead of dwelling on the guilt of my greed, the better action would be to ask God the questions that bring about change: “What can I do about my tendency to be greedy? What can I do to better serve the needs of others? In what areas are You inviting me to be more generous and less selfish?” Rather than just pointing a finger or blaming others, I can begin by doing what I can to be part of the solution.
NOW is the time for us to show God’s love, to give people hope, to rally with helpful support, to be shining lights with gracious and generous spirits, in a world that so desperately needs us to do so. God calls us to be people of generosity- no matter our income level.
Jesus tells us, Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Luke 12:32-34 NRSV)
Our generous lives will show how much we trust his words.
¹Richard Rohr quote from his article: https://cac.org/scarcity-or-abundance-2018-07-05/
Money Jar image by Josh Appel on UnSplash (@joshappel)