Wayne Visser, in a recent article, referred to the German root for the word “greed” which means to have a sickness or disease. Mr. Visser wrote, “for greed acts like a cancer in society, an essentially healthy cell in the body, which becomes selfish and ultimately destroys the host.” Well, our society has been destroyed through greed and the pursuit of power and is the reason why tens of millions of our people are unemployed, why the cost of food, energy and goods are spiralling upward, why any hope of a rapid economic turnaround is dimming and why people are grasping at any straw, be it false religions or replacement of more of the same leadership. We are at a low point in our nations as unscrupulous leaders and the rich are basically confiscating more and more of our wealth with new taxes, manipulation of commodities, wars and senseless programs. There is no doubting that the age of greed has finally reached the point of no return and must end in an inevitable collapse that will open the door for our enemies who will “look to take a spoil,” as warned by the prophet Ezekiel.
Still, we who are not covered by the term “unscrupulous rich” are not lily white either. You know, the definition of greed that we are most familiar with is, “an excessive desire to acquire or possess more (especially material wealth) than one needs or deserves.” And this is certainly prevalent in today’s society as well, as the trend toward larger homes, expensive vehicles and other toys, exotic travel and pleasures of life has accelerated in almost a race for bragging rights. I suppose this is okay as long as we bear in mind what the Bible says, “Thou shalt remember the Lord thy God: for it is He that giveth thee power to get wealth.” But equally important is the responsibility of wealth, “Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase …” This, of course, is known as tithing and as our Israelite brethren have distanced themselves from God, “tithing” has become rather rare. I had an occasion to review the tax returns of a couple who collectively earned over $200,000 in salaries alone in the past year and it was almost laughable to see that the total amount of their charitable donations was $15.00. Who knows what God has in mind for them; but I know their strong earnings has not made them happy. It kind of reminds me of Revelation 3:17, “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not than thou are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” You know, God makes responsibilities crystal clear in Malachi 3:8&10, “Will a man rob God? Yet, ye have robbed me, But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offering ……… Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of Hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” You see, God wants us to be rich, but to share as well.
Alexander (Boss) Gibson
A great industrialist who shared his wealth with his workers, his community and to his country.
This is the great problem with the unscrupulous rich. For example, God warns them in James 5:1-3 of their impending miseries, that their storing up treasure for the last days will be the witness against them because they have failed in their leadership and responsibilities. He adds that the great howling and weeping from these rich people is not repentance but sorrow because of what is happening to their wealth. They just do not realize that their wealth must be used for good purposes, for the benefit of mankind, not for hoarding. Yet, their hoarding is going to be the prime witness against them and there is nothing their wealth can do to help them to escape the judgment.
It should be clear that they are not being judged simply because they are rich, indeed many wealthy men, particularly in the past, have been very close to God and tithed. Good examples are J.C. Penny, H.J. Heinz, J.L. Kraft and Canada’s forgotten giant, Alexander Boss Gibson. Today, however, such men (and women) are a rarity. But James directs his following three verses to the vast percentage of the powerful unscrupulous rich and indicts them in a most frightening way.
In verse 4 he reminds them , “Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud…” We have the benefit of understanding God’s Words here clearly when we also read Deuteronomy 24: 14, “Thou shalt not oppress an hired servant that is poor and needy, whether he be of thy brethren, or of thy strangers that are in thy land within thy gates.” Let’s for a moment examine what has happened in our Israel lands, particularly over the last half-century. First, the financial structure of the lands, that is banking, investment dealers, aided by government sympathies, have permitted corporate takeovers that have resulted in monopolies and oligopolies to the extent that it permits the men and women behind them to control almost every facet of society. And what decisions are these men and women making outside of pricing matters that place an undue strain on people. Well, downsizing has killed the jobs of countless thousands; free trade agreements with non-Israelite countries have closed one manufacturing plant after another, as industries have moved offshore; and workers are paid exactly what it takes to keep them, not a penny more. In the last decade, the unscrupulous rich behind corporate power have transferred millions of jobs offshore to take advantage of cheap labour and the pace is accelerating. All the while, government is sitting idling by, mouthing their disapproval but doing nothing about it.
Verse 5 warns these unscrupulous men and women that their love of luxury, pleasure and extravagant living is just fattening them up for the day of slaughter (or the Day of Judgment). The Knox version of the Bible sums it up more brutally, “You have comforted your hearts with luxuries on this day that dooms you to slaughter.” And why! Because as verse 6 says, “ye have condemned and killed the just: and he does not resist you.” And what does this really mean? The Apocrypha Book of Ecclesiasticus Chapter 34: 21-22 clarifies this for us, “The bread of the needy is their life: he that defraudeth him thereof is a man of blood. He that taketh away his neighbour’s living slayeth him; and he that defraudeth the labourer of his hire is a bloodsheddar.” So now you will see why I emphasized those words “in thy land” in the above paragraph. These passages in Ecclesiasticus clearly relate to those who so casually kill millions of jobs in the Israel nations by sending them overseas and thereby forcing occupants of those jobs to seek welfare or take menial replacement jobs.
It is truly the Age of Greed and men and women who participate without thought of the responsibilities that go hand in hand with wealth have not much longer to bring their misery into the world.