The Passions: Avarice

Proverbs 15:27 – Those who are greedy for unjust gain make trouble for their households, but those who hate bribes will live.

Some passions we will find we struggle with – they have a foothold in us and are difficult for us to overcome.  They can really limit us.  Other passions don’t hold as much control over us.  The key here is to be self-aware enough to see which ones blind us more than others.

In Luke 12, a young man in the crowd near Jesus yelled out, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me!”  This seems to be an adequate, legal request, but rather than judge the dispute, Jesus turns the attention back the motives of the man’s heart saying, “Take care and be on guard against all kinds of greed.”  Jesus then shares a parable of a rich man who produced abundantly.  He produced so much that he ran out of room to store his abundance.  So, he tore down all his barns to build bigger barns.  These bigger barns will allow us to be safe, secure, happy, and comfortable for the rest of our future.  But God came that night and his time on this earth was up. Jesus ends by saying, “So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.”

Avarice is simply defined by the early Christians as being unwilling to share your resources with others.  Evagrius, who first wrote of the eight passions in the 4th century AD, said avarice stems first from a fear of the future – which is really a lack of trust in God: if I give away what I have now, what will happen to me later?

Avarice is the unwillingness to share our resources because we are afraid there will not be enough for our future.  This is a lack of trust and a lack of faith.  Can we see ourselves honestly?  Are we generous?  Are we sharing?  And do we have enough trust in God for the future so that we can see the need of others?

Roberta Bondi in her book, To Love as God Loves, writes, Avarice at its very root is to believe that possessions actually provide far more security than they do, a very common misconception in our materialistic culture.”

Evagrius said there is one more aspect to AVARICE that blinds us.  This other element of avarice for the early Christians was shame at receiving charity. Not only does our culture make a virtue of never being in need; it tends to be contemptuous of those who are in need, materially or emotionally.

Are you willing to share with those in need?  Are you willing to receive charity when you are in need?

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