On the Sin of Greed

Metropolitan Luke’s wartime notes

But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever. Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;) Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God (2 Cor. 9:6–11).


Christ is in our midst, my dear readers!

Today’s [October 8] epistle reading teaches us mercy, compassion, the ability to share with your close ones for Christ’s sake not only heartfelt warmth, but also material abundance. The theme of “greedy priests in Mercedes Benzes” was in its time picked up by many people who were looking for a reason to hate the Church. I will not offer examples—there were very many in my lifetime, when priests served in extreme poverty even compared with “rich” times. The Lord leads each of us along His path to salvation. It’s not difficult to explain the psychological popularity of this meme. For a greedy, envious, money-loving person, his neighbor’s wealth is like a knife in the heart. In general, all revolutions are built on this. “We’ll built our own, new world, and he who was nothing will become everything” [one of the slogans of the Bolshevik revolution]. But nothing has changed. Rich landowners were replaced by rich businessmen, instead of the aristocratic elite came the party elite, and the poor man who lived in poverty went on living in poverty.

As long as there is love of money and love of power, there will always be people who are ready to obtain power and money at any price. Because in the earthly, atheistic worldview, this is happiness. But how many examples there are of rich people who end their lives in suicide. Some from an over-satiated life, others because from billionaires they became “impoverished” millionaires due to fluctuations in the exchange rate. Nothing external, no matter how abundant it may be, can provide inner fullness. Between the two is an impenetrable wall. The poor man can have paradise in his heart in the midst of poverty, while the rich man has the flames of hell in his heart.

God humbles Himself before man’s will and allows him to live as he pleases. There are confessions among the heterodox that are simply obsessed with the idea of enrichment. They gather huge crowds at their services and ask God for money. And it works. How can that be? Abba Dorotheus answers this question in his teachings: “Whoever asks God for the earthly, God gives him the earthly—only he takes the heavenly away from him.”

We need to look at our hearts. Those who believe in the Gospel know that the Lord takes care not only of the lilies of the field and the birds of the air, but also for man. It has long been noticed that if a person helps the poor without looking back at his own wealth, God Himself will take care of him. He won’t have hills of gold, he won’t become a moneybag, but he will never lack what is most necessary. And the opposite is true—as soon as a man’s heart inclines towards love of money, the Lord abandons him.

I know a very qualified doctor, who before being called to a consultation would ask, “Does the patient have the money to pay for my consultation?” The Lord gave him the opportunity to learn the depths of medical arts, but he decided to keep it for himself. Later, he himself began to have such problems that cannot be solved by any amount of money. And all he had earned no longer brought him any joy.

Unfortunately, this approach is now being cultivated in every sphere of man’s life as a generally accepted norm. If you have money, you’ll get what you desire; if not, go and be happy with what you have, or die. But I am convinced that if a man is a specialist with God-given talent, and his heart lives by Christ, he will not live according to the generally accepted norms, but according to the Gospel. And glory be to God, that in our country, and throughout the world there still are no few such specialists. Someone goes to for a vacation on the Canary Islands, while another takes up his backpack with medicines and goes to poor countries to treat without pay those who have no access to a doctor. Some will lounge in the sun on a beach bed, freezing their souls, while another’s heart will be filled with light, love, and quiet joy amidst poor folk.

Such is human life. The greedy man has a heart of stone, but the generous man’s heart is alive. When the soul of the first leaves its body it will fall downward like a stone to hell, while the soul of the latter will fly like a bird up to God. And we are given the freedom of choice for flight.

Metropolitan Luke (Kovalenko) of Zaporozhye and Melitopol
Translation by OrthoChristian.com



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