Thursday, January 08, 2009

Consuming Reflections: Crushed to death

One of the projects I've set myself this year is to meditate more on what I read in the Bible each day. But I'm no good at just letting it simply swill around in my head which is where blogging comes in, I thought I'd reflect on verses that relate to money, greed, generosity or whatever other issues strike me as related to living authentic Christian lives in a consumer society.

In my daily readings I'm in the Book of Job and a fair bit of the discussion relates to wealth. Job is introduced as a phenomenally wealthy man (Job 1:3) he was a millionaire (maybe even billionaire) of his day. His wealth was a blessing from God (Job 1:10) and its removal was seen as evidence of sin. Job's friends argue that Job's misfortune can only be as a result of his sin and pride.

In reply Job argues that things are not so clear cut. He is innocent and now poor and in distress while many wicked men sleep easy with their ill-gotten riches. Wealth isn't the obvious sign of God's favour that you might think. So wealth could be a sign of blessing (Abraham, Job, Solomon) or it could not, so how do you tell? Clearly, not by looking at the wealth but by looking elsewhere for the fruit of the character and the integrity of their actions.

Yet it was the description of greed in Job 20:20 that caught my eye:
"Greedy people want everything and are never satisfied. But when nothing remains for them to grab, they will be nothing."
In the ESV it says the greedy person 'knew no contentment in his belly'. Deep in the gut, the one who lusts after stuff, who chases after money, who hungers continually for more, will never be satisfied. There is no enough for such people.

Today on the news I listened to the tragic story of Joan Cunnane, 77, from Stockport. A shopaholic she was found dead under a pile of unopened purchases. Crushed to death, alone in a house of things she bought but never opened. It was one of the most tragic news stories I heard. Greed crushes the soul to death, under the weight of never fulfilled desires the spirit dies. We need rescuing and salvation from greed.

So what satisifies me? What I earn? What I achieve? What I own? What I experience? When will that ever be enough? Proverbs 19:23 tells us that knowing God, fearing the Lord is the place where my soul can be satisfied, because there lies life - everything else ultimately is death to us without God, it is rotten. We should consider it rubbish, Paul argues (Php 3:8).

So, I hope I can make it a constant refrain in my heart to set my gaze upon the one who can truly satisfy, for that will be enough for me.


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