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11.01.2018

"When wealth is multiplied, do not apply to it the heart"

The ways to combat the passion of love of money for the Holy Scriptures

Struggling with passions is an important component in the spiritual life of a person. Spiritual ailments are more dangerous than the most cruel animals because they are not capable of saturation and comfort and so captivate the soul of a person that lead her to hell fire. The Holy Church preserved and communicated the tools of counteraction and the gradual eradication of the passion for money-loving, based on the Divine Revelation and the experience of the holy ascetics and saints of Christ.

The Old Testament prophet Moses at the end of his forty-year journey through the Sinai desert, before entering the Promised Land, warns the Israelites of their future prosperity, warns them against the temptation to appropriate honor for their acquisition: "Be careful not that your heart be puffed up and you forget the Lord your God , and that you do not say in your heart: "My strength and strength of my hand have bought me this wealth" (Deuteronomy 8: 14-17). This example speaks of the need for gratitude to God for His goodness, for his estate, wealth and the realization that everything is a gift of God - this is a good medicine for the poison of the destructive passion of avarice.

The biblical King Solomon, who ignored earthly glory and vanity of treasures, asked God for wisdom to build up relations with people and, to determine his holy will, to please God (see: 3 3: 2, par. 1: 12) and, besides wisdom, he also received wealth from God. In this example, it is shown that wealth should not be a subject of prayer to the Creator, and wisdom and spiritual discernment serve as faithful assistants in the management of society and wealth, through which one can serve to please God.

In the Psalter, which motivates a Christian to fight the evil defect of money-love, the following instructions for the organization of spiritual life are encountered:

- the call to abandon the pursuit of perishable treasures and focus on God-pleasing and saving: The little at the righteous is better than the riches of many ungodly (Psalm 36: 16);

- the mention of financial well-being as worthless in the eyes of God, and, therefore, completely unnecessary: Both simple and noble, rich, as well as poor (Psalm 48: 3);

- attention to the Last Judgment, during which the righteous will say to the unrighteous rich: Here is a man who did not believe in God in his fortress, but hoped for a multitude of his riches, was strengthened in his villainy (Psalm 51: 9);

- a warning for those who began to successfully increase their capital: When the wealth is multiplied, do not apply [to it] the heart (Psalm 61: 11).

The Psalms also raise the question of the envy and murmuring of the poor on God, who are tempted by the riches of others and impunity for the wicked ways of enriching them: And, behold, these wicked are prosperous in this world, multiply wealth. [And I said:] Was it not so in vain that I cleansed my heart and washed my hands in innocence, and exposed myself to wounds every day and convicted every morning? (Psalm 72) But there is an answer to the question raised: And I thought how to understand this, but it was difficult in my eyes, until I entered the sanctuary of God and did not understand the end of them. So! on slippery roads, You set them and cast them down into the abyss. How inadvertently they came to ruin, disappeared, perished from horrors! As a dream upon awakening, so You, Lord, having awakened them, will destroy their dreams (Psalm 72). It clearly shows the problem of man after the fall, the limitedness of his knowledge and the adherence to sin. Human ignorance does not provide an opportunity to penetrate into the Providence of God, and the adherence to sin gives rise to a distorted and false interpretation of what is happening, which leads to envy, to murmuring and lack of love in the heart.

Human ignorance does not provide an opportunity to penetrate into the Providence of God, and the adherence to sin gives rise to a distorted and false interpretation of what is happening, which leads to envy, to murmuring and lack of love in the heart.

In the psalm 118, beginning with the words "Blessed are the unblemished in the way, walking in the law of the Lord" we meet the mention of the true wealth of a Christian who brings him true bliss: I rejoice in the path of your revelations as of any wealth (Psalm 118: 14).

Thus, the Psalter is an important biblical textbook to combat the passion of avarice. It offers the following tools of struggle: contentment available and focus on personal salvation, awareness of worthlessness of wealth for eternal life, remembering about the Last Judgment for suppressing the thirst to possess the treasures of the earth, etc. And also in the Psalter the question of inadmissibility of envy to people rich and about sad the fate of those who are enslaved by the power of mammon.

The next book of the Old Testament canon, Proverbs, does not bypass the subject of avarice.

Genuine wisdom is called great wealth, which can replace money: Blessed is the man who has gained wisdom, and the man who acquired the mind, because its acquisition is better than buying silver, and profit from it is greater than from gold: it is more precious than precious stones; [No evil can resist it; it is well known to all who approach it], and nothing you desire can be compared with it (Proverb 3: 13-16). Wisdom is not only a goal, but also a means, for a truly wise man rarely becomes a slave to money-love, because he understands the real place of things in life.

The Lord is called the main wealth and its source: Wealth and glory are with me, the treasure is unbending and true; My fruits are better than gold, and the purest gold, and the benefit of me is greater than from the choice silver (Proverb 8: 18-19). An aspiration to God is a good reason to struggle with the explored passion.

The topic of the Last Judgment also rises here: Riches will not help in the day of wrath, but the truth will save from death (Proverb 11: 4). The memory of death helps to tear your gaze from the golden calf and to direct it to the path of repentance and correction. He that trusts in his riches shall fall; and the righteous, like a leaf, will turn green (Proverbs 11: 28), is a testimony to those who still hesitate to begin the struggle against this sin.

Understanding the illusory nature of wealth, its impermanence can help in the described spiritual warfare: Do not worry about making wealth; Leave such thoughts of yours. You will fix your eyes on him, and - he is no more; because it will make wings and, like an eagle, fly away to heaven (Proverb 23: 4).

Generalizing the means of combating money love offered in the book of Proverbs, we can distinguish the following: the education of a strong faith and trust in God, a prosperity in wisdom that helps to place the right accents in the system of spiritual and material values, the memory of the impending answer to the Last Judgment and awareness of decay, ephemeral and unreliable material well-being.

In the book of Ecclesiastes there is a lengthy reflection on the harmfulness of money-love, which ends thus: And if to any man God gave wealth and possessions and gave him the power to use from them and take his share and enjoy from his labors, this is a gift of God (5: 9-19). Here again there is an indication of the need to understand who is the true giver of wealth, who should be thanked, which in turn should lead the person away from the self-reliant desire to increase his wealth.

The prophet Jeremiah offers to praise the Creator for what is available and to desire to gain God in the heart more than to destroy himself in trying to earn more.

Prophets, forerunners of the Word of God, denounce the disastrous attitude to money and their counterparts; while they suggest how to begin the struggle against this sinful manifestation of free will.

Let not the rich man glory in his riches. But the boastful one glory in that he understands and knows Me that I am the Lord, doing mercy, judgment and righteousness on earth; for only this is pleasing to Me, says the Lord (Jer. 9: 23-24). The prophet Jeremiah offers to praise the Creator for what is available and to desire to gain God in the heart more than to destroy himself in trying to earn more.

The prophet Ezekiel, denouncing the commander in Tire, speaks of his imminent death at the hands of a stranger, which is the punishment of God for the terrible pride born of money-love; at the end of the prophet's appeal, a sobering mind rhetoric: Do you say then to your murderer: "I am a god," whereas in the hand of the one who strikes you you will be a man, not a god? (Ezra 28: 4-10). Here, in addition to the memory of the mortal, as an instrument to combat the explored passion, self-criticism and a view of wealth as a fragile basis are applicable.

Our Lord Jesus Christ, exposing the wealthy rich in love to his capital and seeing the meaning of life in his preservation and multiplying, gives the fatherly advice how to get rid of the unprincipled and unnatural captivity: Everyone who asks of you, give, and from him who took your not demand back ( LX 6: 30). Continuing His instruction, the Savior warns against the false fulfillment of his words: And if you give loans to those from whom you hope to get back, what is your gratitude for that? for sinners also lend to sinners to get back as much. But you love your enemies, and do good, and lend, without expecting anything; and you will have a great reward, and you will be the sons of the Most High; He is good to ungrateful and evil (Luke 6: 34-35). From the quoted words of Christ follows, selfless charity and generous alms are the tools of spiritual purification, the blessing of God and the removal from evil and corruptible wealth.

Sell ​​your estates and give alms. Prepare yourselves vaginas that do not decay, a treasure that does not descend in the heavens, where the thief does not approach and where the moth does not eat, for where your treasure is, there your heart will be (LX12: 22-34), another divine imperative, mobilizing the ability to share with a neighbor, deprive yourself of something for the benefit of another person.

Alms-a good means of resisting the demon of avarice, but sometimes it serves as a screen, behind which lies entrenched passion. When a person begins to justify his aspiration for enrichment and a heartfelt love for money with rich donations, temple building and other things, but internally adheres to these material values, enjoys possession of them and considers his charity as an attribute of the rich man, he sins against the Truth, for the Lord confounds such judgments . An example of the antipode of the above is the two mites of the widow donated to the temple - a very small amount of money for that time, but great for that woman, and given with love, peace and from the heart. (Mk 12: 41-44; LX 21: 1-4).


Dobri Dobrev

The Holy Evangelist Luke conveys the words of the Son of God, which are directed to fight the human passion of money-love: And he said to his disciples: therefore I say to you, do not worry for your soul, what you eat, or for the body, what to put on: the soul is more food, and body - clothing (Luke 12: 22). Further, several images confirm the validity of what has been said; These crows include crows who do not labor to exhaustion in pursuit of great prosperity, and lilies that are not troubled by the search for expensive things and objects adorning their vernal appearance, but everything is arranged by the grace and the almighty power of God. Here the Apostle Matthew adds the testimony of the Redeemer of his humanity-loving Providence: So, do not look for what you eat, or what to drink, and do not worry, because all this is what the people of this world are seeking; your Father knows that you need it; Above all seek the kingdom of God, and all these things will be added to you. The above instruction of the Lord clearly indicates an unconditional trust in God and the desire to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, where there is no sickness, no sorrow, no sighing, as a weapon against money-loving love.

In the struggle against money-loving charity and sacrifice, there is a danger of falling into self-interest and hypocrisy, in order to avoid this, the Gospel has the following instruction: When you are making dinner or dinner, do not call your friends, your brothers, your relatives, or the rich neighbors to they did not call you, and you did not get a reward. But, when you make a feast, call the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed that they can not repay you, for it will be rewarded to you on the resurrection of the righteous (Luke 14: 12-14).

Passion avarice can not be combined with the virtue of non-possessiveness.

Before a person who has decided to throw off the love of money for himself or even not let him to his heart, there may be a practical question: why do I do my best, but do not achieve the desired goal? This question is answered by the Holy Scripture, in which the story of a young man who fulfilled all the prescriptions of the old law, but enslaved by Mamon, is kept. When Christ called this young man to distribute his estate and follow Him, he could not give up the material good. After this erroneous choice of the young man, the Lord adds to what has already been said: It is difficult for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven ... It is more convenient for a camel to go through the needle ears than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God (Matthew 19: 23-24), and then leads to an important medicine this spiritual ailment is His help: It is impossible for humans. But to God all things are possible "(Matthew 19: 26).

The passion of avarice can not be combined with the virtue of non-possessiveness, Jesus Christ Himself says: No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be zealous, and care for the other. You can not serve God and Mammon (Luke 16: 13).

The Gospel example of Zacchaeus the publican, a money-grubber and a silver lover, clearly illustrates how the desire to receive the evangelism of Christ awakens a feeling of repentance and a desire for holiness in the soul (Luke 2: 10). In the modern world, the Lord speaks to people through the Holy Church, through the texts of Holy Scripture, through the pages of the Gospel, and therefore diligent study of the Word of God fosters the awakening in the human soul of an understanding of the differences between true wealth (in God) and false, temporal and vain.

The Savior's call to sell the estate, distribute money to the poor and follow him embarrassed and saddened one young man who was rich and hoped for his estate. In this case, Christ tells His disciples that it is difficult for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, explaining that they hope and rely on their money, not on God (see: 10: 17-25, 19: 16) -24; LX18: 18-27). It also shows from this example that one of the most effective ways to rid and eradicate the passion of avarice is a sincere and comprehensive trust in God, His words and His call, and wealth can be both a means to fulfill the call of God and a means of rejecting oneself from God.

The following example of the Gospel, two mites of the poor widow (see: 12: 41-44; LX21: 1-4), which brought a sacrifice to God greater than the rich man allowed himself. Despite the seeming insignificance of the gift of the poor widow, her victim was a victim of all that she had. The Lord accepts her sacrifice and sets her as an example to her listeners, and through them to all believers in Christ the Savior.

Those who live their earthly way in pursuit of profit and material gain, deny themselves the reward in the next century and doom themselves to eternal punishment. About such people Christ says: On the contrary, woe to you, rich! for you have already received your consolation (Luke 6: 24).

For a man who has decided to embark on the path of works of mercy, but who meets the internal or external obstacles associated with determining whom to help and who does not, Christ gives a parting word: "Everyone who asks of you, give, and from one who took yours do not demand back (Lk 6: 30). But we must not forget the ancient formula that calls for discernment, so as not to harm your neighbor: let your alms be misted in your hands, before you know who you give [1]. Similarly, the opinion of the Old Testament sage: let the pious, and do not help the sinner (Sir 12: 4).

Every time you sacrifice your neighbor, you should remember the words of the Savior: And if you give loans to those from whom you hope to get back, what kind of gratitude do you have for that? for sinners also lend to sinners to get back as much. But you ... and lend, do not expect anything; and you will have a great reward, and you will be the sons of the Most High (Luke 6: 34-35). Only a sacrifice from a pure and unconscious heart is accepted by God as a true sacrifice for one's neighbor, and one should not wait for the return of what has already been sacrificed, or regret what it did if it was done free of charge and for love.

In the Apostolic Epistles, the holy Apostle James, reproving the first Christians for hypocrisy, caused by a special piety for rich people and possessing a great fortune, asks a rhetorical question: Did not God choose the poor of the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the Kingdom, which He promised to those who loved Him? (James 2: 5) These words of the apostle lay the meaning of man's closeness to God in the paucity of the earthly path, and also extolled the godly nature of the virtue of non-suasion, in which there is no "precious cargo" that alienates man from God.

The Apostle Paul calls to collect spiritual wealth: So you, being jealous of the gifts of the spiritual, try to enrich them with the edification of the church (1 Corinth 14: 12). In another epistle the apostle gives a broad explanation of the concept of spiritual fruits: the fruit of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, mercy, faith, meekness, temperance. On such there is no law (Gal. 5: 22-23). Such a reorientation of the goals of life is a good tool in combating the passion for money love, which does not accept cohabitation with the fruits of spiritual wealth.

Let your alms be misted in your hands, before you know who you give.

In the first epistle to Timothy, the Apostle Paul, gives recommendations on the spiritual guidance of people who possess great material capital; these recommendations can serve as a valuable resource for the spiritual guides of modern Christians: exhort the rich in the present century, that they do not think highly of themselves and trust not in the riches of the wrong, but in the living God, who gives us everything abundantly for enjoyment; so that they may be beneficent, rich in good deeds, generous and sociable, gathering their treasure, a good foundation for the future, to attain eternal life (1 Tim. 6: 17-19). In the same message, instructions are given for the shepherds themselves, where greed is called an inadmissible quality of the cleric (1 Tim. 3: 3, 8).

Also, in this epistle, the Apostle Paul, appealing to all Christians, calls to be content with what is (food and clothing); those who desire to be enriched fall into temptation and into many reckless and harmful lusts for calamities and perdition (see: 1 Tim. 6: 8-11).

Summing up, it is necessary to distinguish the following spiritual exercises: the strengthening of faith in God the hope for His Providence, the realization of the corruption and illusory nature of the power of wealth, as well as understanding it as a gift of God and treating it as a means for a pleasing life. To teach oneself to be always grateful to God, to be content with what is, not to pray for the multiplication of your capital, but for acquiring spiritual wisdom and reasoning. To convince oneself of worthlessness of money and even their perniciousness for salvation and eternal life. Try to have a mortal memory and prepare yourself for the Last Judgment of God. It is also necessary to suppress in every way the murmur and jealousy, to refuse to boast, which fuels the desire to become richer, to try to be merciful, to sacrifice voluntarily and to all who need it.


[1] John Chrysostom, sv. Complete collection of creations. In twelve volumes. T. VII. - St. Petersburg: ZLATOUST, 2004. - С.452.

A source: Sretensky Theological Seminary

Author: Monk Agafangel (Davlatov)

Tags: Religion, Christianity