Duncan already had a copy of Beyond Greed by Brian Rosner when we got married so I thought it would be a good place to start. Reasonably short (174 pages) and very readable, the book forces readers to examine the greed we turn a blind eye to.
Although the book is challenging, I felt most of it was just reiterating stuff I already knew: greed is subtle, we cannot serve both God and money, idolatry as the source of greed, learning to be content etc. I guess the problem is that this is stuff I know in my head, but it often has trouble finding its way to my heart.
One really helpful part of the book is that it really examines a few key money verses from the Bible, including 1 Timothy 6:10. The author points out that money is NOT evil IN ITSELF, but the love of money is. But while the book argues that it is wrong to be greedy and focused on material things and find satisfaction in them rather than in God, the godly alternative is not some kind of pious poverty. Christians are to give generously to those in need - not just financially, but through hospitality and sharing possessions.
The book contains many articles which originally appeared in The Briefing, a monthly Christian magazine published by Matthias Media (who also published this book). They cover topics such as gambling, giving, contentment, and the average Australian lifestyle. It's great to hear the perspective of many different writers on what is often a difficult and controversial topic to speak openly about.
If you're a practical person, like me, then you'll find the latter chapters to be helpful. They provide examples of radical generosity, not to guilt-trip us into giving, but to give some ideas for those wanting to impliment change, but struggling to know where to start. Some of these ideas are:
- Don't buy any CDs for a year (and do not illegally burn CDs. Obey Christ over what temptations money may offer us).
- Move to a smaller home.
- Set a budget with your spouse starting with a 'lifestyle limit' and give the rest away.
- Put off the kids' private education or scrap it altogether.
- Scrap overseas trips.
- Don't buy any new clothes for a year.
- Walk more and use less petrol.
This book is definitely worth a read. My tip is to read it slowly. Don't rush! There is a lot to take in, and if you're anything like me, it takes a while to penetrate my thick skull. Don't skip to the end to read the practical stuff. The earlier chapters may be what you know already, but we need to allow God to expose what's in our hearts before we can start making changes.