Lust for Wealth

I noticed a few things about 2 Peter chapter 2, and thought it was interesting enough to do a blog post on it. This passage is a warning against false prophets and teachers. The main description of these people in verses 10-22 is bracketed by two statements comparing them to animals: they are “like irrational animals, creatures of instinct” and later Peter quotes a proverb comparing them to a dogs and pigs. They also blaspheme angels, which is interesting because man’s nature is kind of like a blend of angel (soul without body) and animal (body without soul). It’s like they have fully rejected that part of their God-given nature, even more, that part which is made in the Creator’s image.

Peter makes another animal reference in the middle of the passage: these people are compared to Balaam, who was rebuked by “a speechless donkey” who “spoke with human voice.” The implication is that in a way they have become even lower than the animals, who are more human than they.

What else does he criticize them for?

  • revel in the daytime in deceptions
  • eyes full of adultery
  • hearts trained in greed
  • love gain from wrongdoing (like Balaam)
  • loud boasts of folly
  • entice by sensual passions

How does this fit with the Stewardship.com topic? The most explicit connections are the statements that they have “hearts trained in greed” and “love gain from wrongdoing” like Balaam. He was paid to work against the Israelites by cursing them. When that failed he was able to lead them astray through sexual temptation. We naturally think of lust or sexual greed as a very base, animalistic desire, while the desire for wealth is somehow more respectable. This passage connects the two, and in that connection demonstrates the base, instinctual component to greed for money or possessions.

Remember though that desire in itself is not evil. The “animal” part of us is created by God just as much as our soul and spirit. God blesses sexual desire and sexual expression when it is channeled through marriage. Can he also bless our desire for wealth or possessions? Can he also bless the expression of having wealth and possessions? This concept is less well developed, but I believe the answer is yes. Like marriage it is a narrow road and small gate amidst a billion ways to stray onto the wide road that leads to destruction. The camel can indeed go through the eye of the needle, but when it does it is a miracle.

In a sense, the entire mission of Stewardship.com is answering these questions. I believe there are seven basic principles in the Bible that are like guardrails along that narrow road that leads to the small gate.

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