I’ve heard about the “seven deadly sins” most of my life. After all, I grew up in the Southern Baptist tradition where sin was a very popular subject, especially on Sundays from about 9 am to 12 noon. (I sometime think we talked about the seven deadly sins on Sunday then went out and practiced them the rest of the week, but that’s a different story I’ll save for another time.)
So, what are the seven deadly sins? Well, it turns out that depending on where you look you’ll find an assortment of different sins listed as well as a different number. For example, Wikipedia lists not seven but nine:
Meanwhile, http://www.deadlysins.com/sins/, yes there’s actually a website by that name lists these:
Pride is excessive belief in one’s own abilities, that interferes with the individual’s recognition of the grace of God. It has been called the sin from which all others arise. Pride is also known as Vanity.
Envy is the desire for others’ traits, status, abilities, or situation.
Gluttony is an inordinate desire to consume more than that which one requires.
Lust is an inordinate craving for the pleasures of the body.
Anger is manifested in the individual who spurns love and opts instead for fury. It is also known as Wrath.
Greed is the desire for material wealth or gain, ignoring the realm of the spiritual. It is also called Avarice or Covetousness.
Sloth is the avoidance of physical or spiritual work.
And AllAboutGod.com (another uniquely named website) lists these:
- Lust – to have an intense desire or need: “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28).
- Gluttony – excess in eating and drinking: “for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags” (Proverbs 23:21).
- Greed – excessive or reprehensible acquisitiveness: “Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more” (Ephesians 4:19).
- Laziness – disinclined to activity or exertion: not energetic or vigorous: “The way of the sluggard is blocked with thorns, but the path of the upright is a highway” (Proverbs 15:19).
- Wrath – strong vengeful anger or indignation: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1)
- Envy – painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another joined with a desire to possess the same advantage: “Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation” (1 Peter 2:1-2).
- Pride – quality or state of being proud – inordinate self esteem: “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18).
Pretty much the same. But the point to this article is not to debate what the seven deadly sins are, but to identify what I believe to be the deadliest of them all…especially in this day and time.
To do so, I first want to define what I mean by the word “sin” because it carries a lot of negative baggage especially for us recovering Southern Baptists. It’s actually an old archery term that was used when you missed the target or the mark. Doing so was a sin. That’s all.
So, what I’m suggesting is that all these deadly sins are what has us miss the mark in life. They bump us off purpose, so to speak. And which one does this the most in these modern time?
Well, you tell me what you think it is? Look at any of the lists above and pick the one that you feel has us collectively be living in an off purpose world?
Got your answer? Okay, now here’s mine:
GREED! And what is greed? It’s:
- excessive or reprehensible acquisitiveness
- the desire for material wealth or gain, ignoring the realm of the spiritual
- like lust and gluttony, a sin of excess. However, greed (as seen by the church) is applied to a very excessive or rapacious desire and pursuit of wealth, status, and power.
Seen any of this around lately…anywhere? Maybe the more accurate question to ask is, “Can you find anywhere in the world that hasn’t been knocked off the mark by greed?”
So, what do we do about this epidemic of greed?
That really is the $64,000 question, isn’t it, though by today’s greedy standard it’s more like the $64,000,000,000 question. So, what is to be done about this epidemic?
Well, to start with it’s always useful to start by recognizing the disease. In my veterinary days, whenever a sick pet was brought in, the first thing I tried to do was to diagnose the problem. It made it much easier to treat that way. So, I’m suggesting that the deadliest of deadly sins in today’s world is greed — that’s the disease that has grown to epidemic proportions. And we have three different definitions that accurately distinguishes what greed is.
Okay, so if that’s the diagnosis, what is the treatment, the cure for greed? Is there a cure for creed? If there is, where do we find it? Well, we turn to Google, of course…least that’s what I did. When I searched for ‘cure for greed’ I found some very interesting information.
For example, according to Huffington Report writer, John Selby, who is also a Psychologist, author and mind management consultant, there’s a “biology of greed: Greed isn’t the product of our forebrain’s logical deductive cognitive-emotive process. The greed impulse originates in the primitive fear center, in the amygdale and related reptilian parts of the brain”
This is very revealing to me, for it points to the source of greed — fear! And we all know (that is if you’ve been reading this blog or are familiar with the Life On Purpose Process and Perspective) that fear is a foundational element of the Inherited Purpose along with a sense of lack. Could it be that the cause of greed is the Inherited Purpose? Why, of course it does.
When I try this idea on, I see a possible treatment and cure for greed. Rather then letting your life be shaped by the fear and lack-based thinking of the Inherited Purpose you choose to have your life shaped by the Universal Love and experience of abundance of the Divinely Inspired Life Purpose. How do you do that? By regularly purposefully pivoting through the Inherited Purpose and back to your true essence.
Simple, right? Easy — not always. But, oh so worth the effort.