God's vision of abundant living is a world where we live out of a theology of "enough," a theology based in the knowledge that we are grounded in Christ, that our sense of personal value and esteem grows from our Christ-centered life. (Book of Resolutions, 2000, #188)
Scripture calls us to be compassionate and just stewards of our wealth and warns us of the sin of greed and its devastating effects. The Law ensured that the basic needs and rights of the poor were protected from the greedy (Exodus 23:6-11; Leviticus 25:35-55). The prophets warned that an economic system based on greed is contrary to God's will and leads to ruin of the society (Amos 8:4-7; Jeremiah 22:13-17). Echoing the Law and the prophets, Jesus condemned the rich for the hypocrisy of greed and the barriers greed creates to salvation (Luke 6:24; 16:1-15; Matthew 18:16-22). He taught that in the Reign of God everyone would have enough (Matthew 13:31-32; 20:1-16). The early church rejected greed by sharing their wealth among their members (Acts 2:44-45). When their salvation was jeopardized by greed, Paul warned them that "the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil" (1 Timothy 6:6-10).
In our Wesleyan tradition, greed is an impediment to holiness. John Wesley taught and practiced that excessive wealth, absent of effective stewardship and radical charity, prevents a believer from growing in grace and cultivates sinful actions and attitudes. Wesley said that greed is "destructive of that faith which is of the operation of God; of that hope which is full of immortality; of love of God and of our neighbor, and of every good word and work. ("The Danger of Riches" I.11) Wesley also believed that stewardship that centers on care for the poor is a means of Grace. "O let your heart be whole with God. Sit as loose to all things here below as if you was a poor beggar. Be a good steward of the manifold gifts of God." ("On Riches" II.12)
Furthermore, John Wesley encouraged government leaders to develop public policies that provided for the well-being of the poor and the just distribution of wealth through taxation. For example, he praised the mayor of Cork for public policies which curbed the negative effects of greed on the poor. In his tract, "Thoughts on the Present Scarcity of Provisions" he described the widespread suffering of the poor due to changes in the English economy. Among his solutions was a call for the wealthy to pay taxes on their carriages and for the government to regulate the amount the poor could be charged for land rent.
Therefore, we support measures that would reduce the concentration of wealth in the hands of the few. We encourage personal lifestyles that embody good stewardship of wealth on behalf of the poor. We further support efforts to revise tax structures and to eliminate governmental support programs that now benefit the wealthy at the expense of other persons. (Social Principles, ¶ 163; see also 2008 Book of Resolutions, #4052, "Economic Justice for a New Millennium") Gandhi predicted: "There is enough in the world for everyone's need; there is not enough for everyone's greed."
Call to Action:
At the General Church Level:
That the General Board of Global Ministries and General Board of Church and Society study and support measures in the US Congress that would reject new trade agreements that allow continuing subsidies to the richest nations and multinational corporations of the world and restrict the possibilities of advancement of the poorest nations and individuals including family farmers everywhere.
That The United Methodist Church oppose tax reduction measures that would increase the concentration of wealth in the hands of the few and support progressive income taxes.
That The United Methodist Church advocate for revisions of tax structures to reduce the regressive taxes paid by the poor worldwide and redouble our efforts toward debt cancellation for the poorest nations.
That the General Board of Global Ministries and the General Board of Church and Society research public policy solutions to practices in global financial markets which create currency speculation that destroys the ability of countries to protect their currency from devastating ruin
At the Local Church Level:
That local congregations organize "simple-living" seminars in our churches and UMW units.
That local congregations examine their investments and endowment funds to determine how they can be better utilized for the poor.
That local congregations expand their stewardship programs to include education about the effects of materialism on discipleship.
That local congregations advocate for fairness in local taxes that ensure the well-being of the poor.
Be it resolved, that the people called United Methodists search the scriptures concerning greed and pray for forgiveness.
resolution #211, 2004 Book of Resolutions
See Social Principles, ¶ 163A, D, and E.
From The Book of Resolutions of The United Methodist Church - 2008. Copyright © 2008 by The United Methodist Publishing House. Used by permission.