The seven deadly sins were drilled into my head as a kid. Wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, gluttony—all sins, for sure. But deadly? Seems like hyperbole to me.
Take greed, for instance. We've all known people who clamor for more with an insatiable hunger to possess as much as they can. They grab at life and then hold onto what they've got with clenched fists. Unattractive, for sure. A mortal sin? Come on.
Deadly sins are also referred to as capital sins because they're seen as the origin of every other sin that infects our life. Like cancer, capital sins mutate and metastasize and before we know it, we're over-run with life-threatening sin-sickness.
Thinking of deadly sins this way, a new picture starts to take form. I picture my heart like a holding tank. The blood that's in it courses through my arteries, but if the blood is tainted, say, with greed, it will flow throughout my body, infecting me in big and small ways as it makes its way through every part of me.
Greed might only show itself as occasional stinginess, a seemingly minor symptom—like the time I cut a piece of steak in two to share with my husband, and kept the better slice for myself. Or the time I decided to be cheap and forego bringing a dish to pass at a party just to save a few bucks, not because I'm frugal or really needed the extra dollars, but because it meant more for me. Trace these moments of stinginess back to their source, and bingo—there you will find greed.
In her article, "Living Generously in a Greedy World," Nicole Unice says that greed isn't about what we have; "it's about what we want." Wanting isn't sinful. But wanting what we want more than what God wants is.
Amy Simpson takes another tack on greed. She looks at how our culture feeds discontentment in marriage by fueling our desire for a newer, better mate. Renee James takes an honest look at the way her competitive nature became an all-consuming (dare I say deadly) drive in her. She literally took this sin to the mat to overcome it!
When I think of the things I want—a nicer kitchen, a newer car, more frequent and fancier vacations—all this wanting more stems from a mistrust that God won't provide, that he isn't good, and the world has something better to offer. This is sounding more serious now.
The wages of sin is death (Roman 6:23). But thanks be to God that we have a cure for this terminal greed—"eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord."
Marian V. Liautaud
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