Isn’t it surprising that God’s Holy Spirit works in corrupt people – even those, who have mastered the craft of making money and taking advantage of others. How does that fit with the Holy Spirit’s being of keeping a holy temple? How does he stay in people, who follow their own passions and desires and even works in those, who have made greed into a way of life? Even if we don’t know the answer to these questions, we do know that the Holy Spirit does this. It is as if the Holy Spirit, this eternal pastoral care giver goes about this business as living proof to all people, that he wants everybody to come to the knowledge of truth and be saved. Although the greedy and fraudulent very seldom come to conversion and that it always remains a huge struggle, still it has been my experience that such people receive many forms of significant encouragement and prompts right up to the time, when it is too late. God’s word summarizes this experience with the rhetorical question: Do you not realize “that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?” (Rom 2:4 NIV) The truthful answer is, no, we do not know. Even though we may be pious, we may even go to Church, pray and read in the Bible, but still we feel that we have a right and even an obligation to see to that, which is ours and even beyond that looking at that, which could be ours.
Shut yourself off to God’s will and word. Harden yourself against the positive influence of the Holy Spirit. Praise yourself and your ways, especially if in these ways you became debt free, prosperous and even rich. Plug your ears against the word, which calls you to repentance, to conversion, but then bear the consequences, which St. Paul warns us about in this letter: The Lord will punish men for all such sins. (1Th 4:6 NIV)
Lord holy God! You know all the injustice and corruption in this world. How much evil happens and how much sin is committed due to the idolization of money and because of insatiable greed for earthly possessions and stuff. Please Lord keep us from this sin and let us not fall into its trap. Sharpen our conscience, that we distinguish careful between “mine” and “yours”, so that our way of life may remain free of deceit and fraud. Let us rule victoriously over threatening self-centeredness and selfishness. Make us willing to do our part, that poverty may be averted and that other people might receive help and support. Amen. (Churchbook of Württemberg)
With joy and without grudge let me behold the blessing that you bestow on my brother’s and neighbor’s house. Greedy passion, unchristian and sinful chasing after stuff remove from my heart and keep it out of my life! (Paul Gerhard, 1607-1676)
This is a translation of Wilhelm Löhe’s devotion for Tuesday after the Sunday Reminiscere (Second Sunday in Lent). The hymn by Paul Gerhard was translated rather literally, but not poetically. Both are found on Pg. 126 in Lob sei Dir ewig, o Jesu! (Eternal Praise to you o Jesus!) edited by A. Schuster and puplished in the Freimund Verlag, Neuendettelsau 1949.