Is it greed, or coveting?
December 5, 2011
by Pastor Wally Glucklich, Elim Mission Church, Cokato

Are you tired of the Occupy crowd’s activities? They have created chaos in NY, Washington DC, Minneapolis, Oakland, LA, and most major cities in the US. They have defied the law, and committed violence on individuals and businesses, as well as spent millions of taxpayer dollars on security and cleanup. They are uncivil, and even act uncivilized.

Who are these people? Who feeds these people? Who supports them? Who pays them? What are they about?

The main contention comes from their slogan “We’re the 99%.” That means that 99 percent of the people are controlled by the 1 percent on Wall Street, those in corporate America, those who are rich (whatever “rich” really means).

They complain about “Wall Street greed” without understanding that everyone on a pension plan, investment program, or 401k is the beneficiary of the success of Wall Street. Does that mean half of all Americans are greedy.

As we have seen in the past, when Wall Street fails, millions of senior citizens lose their income. Yes, the success of Wall Street puts food on the table for millions of seniors, dependant upon their pensions or investments.

Is it hypocritical to accuse the people on Wall Street of “greed” when not identifying billionaires like George Soros, Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, or successful Hollywood actors, or the multi-millionaire politicians like Mitt Romney, the Kennedys, Al Gore, the Bushes, John Edwards, even our President, of greed? Yes, greed is a big problem in this world, but is “occupying” (creating hardship and chaos) the way to solve it?

What does the Bible say about these issues of wealth and greed? Our first answer comes from the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20. Command number 10 says “You shall not covet (same as greed) your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservants, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” In other words, no one has a right to someone else’s personal property.

It also says in Command number eight, “You shall not steal.” This means a person or government does not have the right to steal from a person or a business through violence or legal means. In fact, God established laws of “taxing” the people 10 percent to sustain the work of the temple and the priesthood (or like our government). Notice that this “tax” hasn’t changed in 2,600 years.

As a society and people, we have a responsibility to work so that we may be able to help the sick and those who fall upon desperate times. The concept of work is very strong in Proverbs, as well as in the Apostle Paul’s writings. Paul says to the Ephesians, “He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need,” Ephesians 4:27.

That is very different from the demands of the Occupy crowds. In fact the Apostle Paul, addressing social issues of the day, states to the Thessalonians, “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.” When the Corinthians did not support his work, he used his own example that “we worked hard with our own hands” (making tents). I Cor. 4:12.

There is an old saying, “There is no such thing as a free lunch.” When we eat the “free lunch,” we become dependant upon another person’s (or government’s) handout. As Proverbs says, “the borrower is servant to the lender” (22:7), thus becoming their slaves. Oh, how careful we must be to avoid looking helpful at the expense of others and God’s standards as stated in His Word.

The cure for greed, whether we are rich or poor, is to get back to a Biblical view of money and possessions. Greed is in the heart of every person. That is why we want what others have. The Bible never talks about “equalized” wealth, but does give us counsel on the right attitude towards living with what we have.

The Apostle Paul states: “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:11 – 13

America, and the church, needs to return to a biblical view of work and wealth.