Remember Scrooge McDuck? The namesake of Charles Dickens' Ebeneezer Scrooge?
If he wasn't throwing fistfuls of gold coins into the air, Donald Duck's uncle could often be found swimming in or skiing down a huge pile of gold coins, with a wake of green bills flying behind him.
That guy was greedy.
It seems as if greed, though—recognized since the earliest decades of the church as one of the seven deadly sins—has in recent years really fallen out of disfavor. Sure, we'll point a webbed finger at someone as twisted as that miserly Scrooge—hucksters like Tolkein's Gollum, Wall Street's Gordon Gekko, Superman's Lex Luthor, The Simpsons' Monty Burns, or Gilligan's Thurston Howell—but we're now less likely to recognize greed as being problematic for our own lives.
Which—for Christians—is problematic.
That to incarnate that iconic Hollywood form of "greed" is largely relegated to those who are fictional, male cartoon-animated and not always even homo sapiens is convenient for someone like me: a real flesh and blood female person. Because if that's greed, then I'm off the hook.
In order to continue viewing myself as someone who's not greedy, I even wile my way out of Jesus' clear teachings about possessions. For instance, I'm not like the guy Jesus describes who builds bigger barns to store his riches. Bigger closets, maybe, but I can assure you I do not own even one barn (Luke 12:13–21). And while I appreciate Jesus' warning against storing up treasures on earth, where moths destroy, living in the South now means I haven't worn a wool sweater in years (Matthew 6:19). I can't remember my last moth incident. And if memory serves, it's the love of money that's problematic, not spending tons and tons of it on home decor (Hebrews 13:5).
Seriously, I'm like a genius stealth-ninja when dodging Jesus' teaching about greed.
How much is enough?
There are, though, a few of Jesus' words I've had a harder time wriggling free from. Namely, in the prayer Jesus teaches his followers to pray to his father, he guides, "Give us today our daily bread" (Matthew 6:11). And, to my ear, daily bread is simply a fancy way of saying enough. In this prayer, which is so fundamental to the Christian life, Jesus instructs us to ask for enough.
And although I'm not skiing down piles of money, I rarely stop at enough. Daily I consume more than my fair share. Any meal I've ever eaten that's been followed by dessert, is one where I've already had at least "enough" before shoving more fats and carbs into my pie-hole. The image of my pie-stained face is an apt one away from the dinner table as well: my home, closets, pantry, Visa bill, water meter, and waistband reveal the obscene discrepancy between "enough" and all I've got.
Margot Starbuck is a TCW regular contributor. Follow her on Twitter @MargotStarbuck.