A Certain Kind of Avarice

Avarice is commonly used to define greed or selfishness in terms of wealth. However, I want to open a dialogue of some lesser known ways where avarice might present itself.

Recently I was caught in between a dream and waking up thinking about the story in Mark 10 where Christ is talking with a man about entering God’s Kingdom:

21 Jesus looked him hard in the eye—and loved him! He said, “There’s one thing left: Go sell whatever you own and give it to the poor. All your wealth will then be heavenly wealth. And come follow me.”  22 The man’s face clouded over. This was the last thing he expected to hear, and he walked off with a heavy heart. He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and not about to let go.

While I’ve heard this story before — usually in contexts revolving around wealth — it struck me differently this time. It wasn’t about the money that the man had. It was not about him buying his way into Heaven or checking something off the list to be allowed in.  What I believe Jesus was getting at was that the man would not be able to experience the fullness of heaven in himself if he wasn’t willing to let go.

A while ago, I heard someone mention that for him, avarice isn’t about not being generous with money or possessions, but in the time he gives to or spends with others.  He found that he can be really stingy.

There are other kinds of avarice. And all of them are rooted in avoidance of doing the hard work and embracing the truth. Have you seen the news lately? There have been so many scandals from the corporate to the church and, of course, the political to the personal.  I’ve tried to follow some of these scandals very closely, keeping abreast on the latest information. What has blown me away is when I see a person being totally open to the truth in one issue then completely shutting down and resisting the truth on another.  It seems to me that their avarice is an unwillingness to see the truth no matter where it leads.

The sad fact of the day for me is that so many people do not do their work.  Invitations come and go, rejected without so much as a thought, but a knee jerk. Each person is invited to do their work — not for selfish reasons — but so that (s)he can be the most loving and healthy for whoever is in their life.  It is the selfless thing to do to face that which you might be unwilling to see in yourself.

So, these thoughts left me wondering … Where is my avarice? And I’ve started to ask myself some questions:

  • Where do I try to hide?
  • Where or what is my unwillingness?
  • What am I not willing to give up?

And I notice how it is starting to lead me down scary roads, bringing up thoughts on how I lead and also the role or lack of roles that I play in my family.

So, if you are willing, my invitation to you is to start noticing those areas where you may have a knee-jerk response to avoid and to purposefully allow yourself to linger a little longer and see what comes up for you.

Maybe we’ll discover something that we’re holding on to which is preventing us from experiencing this life to its fullest.

One thing is for certain – truth, no matter where or what it is, will set us free.

By Justin Haas

Justin completed his initial weekend in November of 2008 and is a graduate of the two-year Transformational Leadership Program (although he wishes there was a four-year option). A California native, Justin was uprooted at age 8 and transplanted into a “foreign, midwest” world called Chicago, along with its bitter temperatures and murky — sometimes fluffy — snow. He believes the depth of healing one receives is crucial to the level of honesty one is willing to have with themselves and living in the light with others. Justin is a husband to one lovely wife and a father to three wacky & tender kids. Professionally, he hangs out in the I.T. industry.

Photo Credit: David Goehring via Creative Commons