We all need money to buy essentials. We need shelter, food, clothing, and medical care. Other things may seem necessary, but if these four basic needs are met, then those other things really are not truly necessary. Nice to have? Of course. Who would want to go to community college if you can pay for Harvard? But necessary? No.
If you want a $500 pair of shoes, just have to have them, well, that’s your problem. Isn’t mine. If you think you need a million-dollar bonus, and your company has just tanked and has received billions in federal tax dollars, then that is my problem. AIG’s insistence on paying large bonuses is a case in point.
Another current example of greed that confuses need with actual necessity? Bernie Madoff’s greedy co-conspirator, his wife, who apparently benefited rather handsomely from Madoff’s thievery. Whether this creature keeps her ill-gotten gains will be up to the courts, but, perhaps she, and many others, would benefit from reading this from Paul’s letter to the Hebrews:
5Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,
“Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.”
6So we say with confidence,
“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
What can man do to me?”
The lesson? Money, per se, is not a bad thing. In our modern society; having some is necessary. And who among us doesn’t want to be comfortable in our homes? Who among us doesn’t want to have to worry about where the next mean is coming from? But all of us should reflect on whether, after we are comfortable, we are not being greedy?
AIG is clearly beyond shame, as are the Madoffs. But surely most of us are made of better stuff. Most importantly, know that we are never alone in this world: God is there to help. Not with money. But with that which money can’t buy, and which we also have a desperate need of: his mercy.