Lutherans believe that God is absolutely powerful and completely sovereign. This God is mysteriously hidden from us; all we have in this life is the God visible in the scriptures in Jesus Christ. The distance between the human Christ, who teaches and preaches and dies on the cross and is raised again, is the space in which the Devil plays with us. As said before we are also willing participants in the play. One area of the playground is the accumulation and use of “stuff”.
Pleonexia is two words strung together. Pleion is more and exo is having. Wanting to get more. Translation- greed or covetousness. The exo word can morph into appetite and so we get another word, anorexia, which means no appetite. We are surrounded by appetite, wanting more. One of the descriptors of a recent politician was that “he was a suit with an appetite”.
I recently came across a paper called “If you do not do this you are not now a Christian”: Martin Luther’s Pastoral Teachings on Money by KATHRYN D’ARCY BLANCHARD. She writes –
In Luther’s time, he bemoans the phenomenon (not unfamiliar today) that what used to be clearly seen as vicious has somehow evolved into a virtue: “Greed nowadays has come to be viewed as talented, smart, careful stewardship,” and this has led as well to “sin in general [being] dressed up to look like virtue and not vice.” Rather than taking care of one another and bearing one another’s burdens, both spiritually and financially, Luther sees in his community a backwards ethic of self-interest in which taking care of oneself has an air of prudence and strength, deserving of the highest honor. Lost is the Christian idea that self maintenance is for the purpose of enabling greater love of God and neighbor;fallen human nature is easily and willingly led to see selfishness as Christian virtue. We play willingly in the Devils playground.
Luther writes, the Apostle commands us to work with our hands so that we may give to the needy….This is what makes caring for [one’s own] body a Christian work, that through its health and comfort we may be able to work, to acquire, and lay by funds with which to aid those who are in need, that in this way the strong mem- ber may serve the weaker….This is a truly Christian life. He goes on to note that the Christian, who is “rich” in the “wealth of his faith,” is able to offer this service willingly and with joy. One who has received such great spiritual possessions need hardly cling to material possessions, which represent a much infe- rior good. This holds true, Luther says, even when giving to people who may be unworthy or ungrateful. “For a man does not serve that he may put men under obligations,” he writes. He does not distinguish between friends and enemies or anticipate their thankfulness or unthankfulness, but he most freely and most willingly spends himself and all that he has, whether he wastes all on the thankless or whether he gains a reward. As his Father does, distributing all things to men richly and freely…so also the son does all things and suffers all things with that freely bestowing joy which is his delight when through Christ he sees it in God, the dispenser of such benefits. Unlike the rule of reciprocity in the economic sphere that requires an opposite (if not equal) reaction for every good action, the gift in the kingdom of God is a one- way street. The Christian who receives the gracious gift of faith from God does not then proceed to live as if material goods were all she had to comfort her. Instead, for Lu- ther, the spiritual gift of received faith inevitably spawns the giving away of one’s unneeded material possessions: “If you are rich and see that your neighbor is poor, serve him with your possessions; if you do not do this you are not now a Christian. This is what we are to do with all our possessions both spiritual and material.” In Luther’s mind, those who are not ready and willing to ease another’s pain—with all their available means—must be lacking in saving faith, since those who are truly saved no longer need to cling to material comfort.
The human being apart from Christ is a greedy grasper, a suit with an appetite.