By Michael E. Brooks
“Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasure” (James 4:1-3 NKJV).
“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Timothy 6:10).
We had a reminder of some of the worst aspects of the human condition this week. A friend’s mother-in-law was badly burned. Apparently her brother put kerosene on her clothing and set her on fire because he was not willing to share their parents’ inheritance (land) with her. She was entitled by law, but he did not accept that.
I have gradually become convinced that the absence of Christian teaching on selflessness, brotherly love, and other spiritual values is at the core of much of the inhumane treatment seen in so many parts of the world.
Add societies where women are of little importance and have no rights and the result is horrible amounts of domestic abuse, murder and violence. Brides are murdered by their husbands or their husbands’ families because she could not or would not provide adequate dowry.
Thousands of others have been maimed and disfigured for life by having acid thrown in their face, often while they are asleep. Many other kinds of offenses could be listed.
We read these accounts, see the results in the faces and bodies of beggars on the street, and wonder, “What can be done to change things.” The answer is the Gospel of a loving God who sent his Son to save us and redeem us from sin. The only answer to sin is Christ. And that is what all this crime and violence is, simply sin caused by greed, pride and selfishness, multiplied by a refusal to know and serve the true God.
So called Christian cultures are not immune from these abuses. As the Western world becomes increasingly secular and agnostic (or atheistic), greed, selfishness and attendant crime continue to grow. Witness the many instances of enormous fraud and failure in economic institutions in recent years. Wherever and whenever people put material possessions, physical pleasure and selfish ambition ahead of God and others, all will suffer.
Preoccupation with the things of this world is not only the root of war and violence. It is also counter-productive in terms of producing true happiness and success. Jesus taught, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (Luke 12:15).
Relationships with others are far more valuable and produce far more blessings than do money or land or treasure. When one considers the temporary and fragile nature of those things, their importance lessens even more (Matthew 6:19-21). It is far better to “Seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God” (Colossians 3:1).
By Michael E. Brooks