I read of a short French film, illustrating the deadly nature of greed. It depicts an empty village and a stranger who entered this deserted town. “Where are all the people,” he wondered. All signs of life were there, nothing was locked, food was on the table, smoke curls from the chimneys, stores were open but there are no customers.
He doesn’t understand, but he proceeds to take advantage of his opportunity to steal. Pretty soon he is too drunk and too giddy to realize that the villagers are all on a nearby hill and are desperately trying to signal to him. They had rushed outside the town because word came to them that a huge bomb in the town square was about to go off. They had left everything behind in order to save their lives. From this safe distance they were trying vainly, by gestures and shouting, to warn the stranger.
As they watched him eat their food and drink their liquor and try on their clothes they forgot the eminent danger. The happy wanderer went into the bank and started flinging their money up in the air. They forgot everything but their greed. They rushed back to the village, beat up the stranger and drove him out. At that moment the bomb explodes. They all die except the stranger.
The Problem of Greed – is dealt with by the Eighth Commandment in Exodus 20:15 “Thou shalt not steal.”
- Stealing begins when we want something we have no right to. The Word of God is replete with examples of the deadly nature of greed, one that comes to mind is that of …
- King Ahab who wanted a vineyard – 1 Kings 21:1-5 “And it came to pass after these things, that Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard, which was in Jezreel, hard by the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. And Ahab spake unto Naboth, saying, Give me thy vineyard, that I may have it for a garden of herbs, because it is near unto my house: and I will give thee for it a better vineyard than it; or, if it seem good to thee, I will give thee the worth of it in money. And Naboth said to Ahab, The Lord forbid it me, that I should give the inheritance of my fathers unto thee. And Ahab came into his house heavy and displeased because of the word which Naboth the Jezreelite had spoken to him: for he had said, I will not give thee the inheritance of my fathers. And he laid him down upon his bed, and turned away his face, and would eat no bread.”
Ahab, sullen, enraged, depressed, suicidal (refusing to eat at all, a rather self-destructive response to the situation, he is like a toddler throwing a tantrum “I’m going to hold my breath until I turn blue unless you give me exactly what I demand)– rather than recognize his own sin, and repent of his covetous heart, and his larcenous intentions to act in violation of God’s law, he morosely became depressed. God says in Proverbs 8:36 “But he who sins against me wrongs his own soul; All those who hate me love death.”
Now because he is king, the covetousness of his heart has larger implications. Sadly this is all too typical of human civil government – it’s greedy and rapacious, and it will take everything if the people do not resist. What Ahab was practicing is today dressed up with the fancy phrase “eminent domain” – the supposed power civil government to take the land of someone to use for a purpose that government deems to be needful.
Why did Ahab want the vineyard? You may recall the three most important factors in real estate? Location, location, location.
What did Ahab want it for? Not for a vineyard – which by the way takes many years to develop and cultivate before it begins yielding a harvest of any significance. So Naboth’s vineyard represented years of careful toil and planning generation after generation. Ahab wanted it for a vegetable garden which would be convenient to his summer palace in Jezreel.
Do you think the rulers of our day are any different than Ahab? In the U.S. Supreme Court case Kelo v. New London the supreme court “injustices” essentially decreed that no one can own property in America any longer. Any civil government body, State, Federal or local can seize your property by eminent domain and there is nothing you can do about it. So we are faced with the claim by civil government to be greater than God, to own all property and we mere serfs must pay rent (they call it property tax) to them on the land we inhabit or they’ll come and kick us off their property.
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