Greed or mercy and generosity? Some people believe that being greedy leads to more success. However, when we look at the bigger picture, mercy and generosity are essential for a healthy society. They create a balance between giving and taking, preventing people from becoming too greedy or too selfish. True happiness does not come from money or power—it comes from using our resources to help others and not taking advantage of the poor and vulnerable. Let’s see what God’s Word today has to say about this.
The prophecy of Amos 8:4-6, 9-12 is our first reference point. God’s response to greed is sweeping. He causes the market to hang in the balance and suffer confusion, turning celebratory events into an emotional dirge. The greed’s physical allure isn’t safe as God causes it to “bald” and changes the mood to a bitter end. Why would God respond with such a strong reprimand?
Why Divine Reprimand Against Greed?
It is because the greedy prey on the poor and the vulnerable. Therefore, God loathes greed. Moreover, greed hoisted on profiting from the poor and most vulnerable is God’s utmost target for retribution.
Notice the five-layered punishments in the Amos prophecy (8:9-12). I prefer to describe them in the following ways: the dismantling of the market; dislodging of the everyday sequence of things so that normal life seems like apodeictic desertion or desolation; bodily predicaments that medical health expertise will continue to struggle to solve; and the emotional breakdown that causes bitter anxiety and emptiness. All these are on the ledger’s moral, cultural, sociological, and physical side. We don’t need to travel far to notice the consequence of greed in today’s social-political world. In other words, a society that celebrates greed hastens desolation.
The Reprimand Against Greed is Deeper
There is a much more penetrating divine response to unbridled greed, the fifth of the layered judgment. It is a spiritual famine—when people will thirst for God’s healing Word and its soothing grace and find nothing. Why? Because they have abolished its safe landing in their hearts. At the roots of greed is radical materialism, which establishes a norm of conduct following the instincts of pure nature, as opposed to the objective norms of nature’s maker. As the renowned English apologist C. S. Lewis suggests, though, in the educational discussion, the consequence of abolishing the objective (Tao) is setting oneself up for self-abolition (The Abolition of Man).
It isn’t that the smug greed will have no hunger to find answers within, but the human search will be deviant of the humble disposition for the true Word. The reason is that they want to control everything—control the market, and by abrasive arrogance, control, if not subvert, divinity. Blinded by the narrow-mindedness of greed, they create their versions of the word and search for it. The more they enthrone it in varied forms of new-age spiritual innuendos, the less they find the inner peace and healing they seek.
Mercy and Generosity Path
Consequently, greed builds into narcissism, and narcissism into soullessness, banishing mercy to the distant aisles in the corridors of the vulnerable they think of as fools. Yet it is to the humble that Christ comes, and for mercy, Jesus is the Messiah. Greed and soullessness blend to form a wall against God. God has come to show mercy to those who have broken the barriers of greed and exploitation. He satisfies those not ready to follow the gulping instinctual nature—the law of having, which increases with every bite of acquisition.
However, to those who let God in by allowing him to break those walls, He states with warm utterance: I come to call you, the sinner. Unlike the judgmental characters of the Pharisees to whom Jesus speaks, the Lord utters to willing humble hearts: I desire mercy, not sacrifice (Matthew 9:12-13).
It leaves us a clear message. Not weaving an ambition with the thread of mercy is a recipe for greed. And greed has a day of divine reconning.
I pray that God will heal our land and grant us the heart of mercy, compassion, temperance, and generosity. Amen.