Greediness was often categorized by the Medieval philosophers and theologians as either covetousness (avaritia) or gluttony (gula). As an excessive love, greed is either the excessive love of pleasure/comfort or the excessive love of power/welfare. Keller brings out the two-sidedness of greed when shares the illustration about the husband and wife arguing about money. The wife, according to the husband was a spendthrift and took no care or thought to their financial needs while the husband, according the wife, was a miserly hoarder who oppressed his family with his scrupulous budgeting. Though the manifestation of the idol of money in either miserliness or prodigality look different, in both the heart is consumed with the object of having money. Whether I use money for my comfort (pleasure) in what I purchase or I use money for my comfort (security) in what I have stored up for myself, money is the answer as to whether I experience safety and peace–money has become my savior.
The Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12) are a helpful commentary on that which will really satisfy, sustain, provide, and trust. These beatitudes are an exposition of what a disciple of Christ values and trusts. In Matthew 5 Jesus says,
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
How does the love or worship of money undermine these blessings? Can someone be poor in spirit, yet wealthy in dollars? Can they be mournful in life and yet comfortable in situation? Can they be meek, and yet have great possessions? What are the traps and dangers for each? How might money be the thing which frustrates one’s ability to enjoy their place in the kingdom or their eternal comfort and inheritance?
Questions for Discussion
- Which are you, the miser or the spendthrift?
- Which are you seeking comfort or security? How so?
- How generous are you with your money and possessions?
- Share a story about money. Did you have money growing up? Did you ever resolve to always have money?
- How do the different characters in Luke 19 show an excessive love of comfort, security, power, control, or welfare?