As we work our way through the seven capital sins, let’s examine the capital of sin of avarice or greed. Just as gluttony and lust pertain to inordinate desires, avarice (greed) is an inordinate desire for earthly things or temporal goods. Obviously, we need ‘earthly goods’ like money, land, and possessions to sustain us. But we don’t need to increase one’s capital without limit. Jesus’ parable about the rich fool (Luke 12:13-21) warns against greed.
However, it is important to understand that these sins incrementally take root in our minds and hearts. Just like an untended garden is overgrown with weeds, we, too, are overgrown with sin if we fail to weed out sin in our mind and heart.
First, let’s take a look at the manifestations of avarice and the little ways it can ‘get a grip’ on us. A person who desires to possess and accumulate earthly goods may lie, cheat, be deceitful, shrewd and crafty to acquire what they want. To betray others through fraud, trickery and treachery are characteristics of one who live by an end justifies the means mentality. This can be coupled with a spirit of restlessness and hardness of heart which can lead to using violence to gain more or to protect what one possesses.
The beauty of knowing the virtues is that they provide a remedy for our weaknesses and sins. Living an honest, upright life can prevent us from establishing a pattern of ‘white lies’ or little ways to ‘get our way’. When we are just and loyal to our work or friends, we are less likely to be fraudulent and betray those around us. Finally, a generous heart keeps us from being self-centered and focused on hoarding everything for ourselves.
So do a Lenten self-check and ask yourself this question, ” Am I rich in what matters to God?”
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