Wealth without Greed

If we have the right motives -- avoiding greed and pride -- material possessions can and should be sought after to accomplish good purposes, as well as provide for our basic needs, which in turn keeps us from becoming dependent upon others.

Examples of LDS attitudes toward the use of material wealth can be found in the Church's emphasis on disaster relief, charitable projects worldwide, employment services, and a program called the Perpetual Education Fund whereby members contribute financially to help deserving, economically disadvantaged people receive enough education or technical training to escape generational cycles of poverty. (It is "perpetual" because recipients repay the funds for use by others.)

So wealth and prosperity are not necessarily bad things, unless we succumb to the temptation to be greedy about them. And despite its role in driving capitalist markets in a fallen world, true greed is decidedly not good; it is to be avoided. How? Submit yourself to God, strive to be humble, and use temporal resources for His purposes.

And just how are we to combat the evils of greed in our society? At least part of Christ's solution was to teach the Gospel to all nations (Mt. 28:19). In the words of LDS prophet Ezra Taft Benson:

The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. The world would take people out of the slums. Christ takes the slums out of people, and then they take themselves out of the slums. The world would mold men by changing their environment. Christ changes men, who then change their environment. The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human nature.
Ezra Taft Benson, "Born of God," Ensign, Jul 1989, 2

Gary Blakely is a recently-unemployed commercial real estate finance professional. He is a resident of Chicago's western suburbs, the husband of only one, and a father of three. With an MBA in finance from Northwestern University and a few more years before retirement, he is open to your advice on where to seek for riches ... with the intent, naturally, of furthering God's purposes. His website is www.gbanalytics.com and his email is gary@gbanalytics.com.

[1] Many Christians, including LDS Christians, have heard the explanation of this passage that refers to the small gate cut within a larger city gate, known as "the eye of the needle" by which one might enter after nightfall, and that a man could pass through, but that a camel would need to be relieved of its burden, and kneel in order to fit through. LDS scholar John A. Tvedtnes however, has pointed out that although this is a beautiful explanation, it is problematic. For one thing, camels' anatomy prevents them from crawling on their knees. More serious, however, is the fact that such gates do not seem to have existed prior to the 12th century, making it highly unlikely that such imagery was the basis of Jesus' teachings.

11/30/2009 5:00:00 AM
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