Thoughts on Greed by Peter Walpot

Peter Walpot was a second generation leader so the Anabaptist movement. He wrote in 1577. He believed that Christians could not own personal possession, but that Christians must live in community with each other and share all their possessions. He worked his way through the entire Bible and pointed out every scripture that he believed spoke to this belief. He found around 140 of them. 

He also spoke of other topics related to possessions, such as greed. The following quote is from his “True Yieldedness and the Christian Community of Goods” as found in Early Anabaptist Spirituality: Selected Writings. 

Walpot writes:

Greed is a serious and evil sickness which blinds a person’s eyes and stops up his ears. Nothing is more wretched and vexing to such a one than to hear about community and yieldedness. The disease of greed withers the hand so that it is useless in helping others. The greedy lose their reason and do not know what or why they are here on this earth. Greed allows neither the self, the conscience, nor the soul to know salvation. For the most corrupt kind of metal commands them and rules them. All the while they think they are commanding and ruling over others. Therefore, there is nothing more senseless and more adverse than to serve and cling to money and greed. Their joy is to be tangled up in bondage, and they are happy and jubilant to see themselves be pressed under by a greedy dog. They give that dog all the more to gorge on so that it becomes even stronger and in this way make for themselves countless roads into hell. For greed is like putting more wood on the fire to make it greater. The more a person brings to it, the more it rises up. The greedy do not care what they already have. They put it behind them and snap after more in front of them. And finally they come to the same fate as Aesop’s dog.

That is why we should ponder this and flee from it with highest diligence. We should search out the antidote for this disease with which we may kill this terrible beast and pull all greed out by the roots. This pestilent disease has spoiled the earth. This sin has mixed things all up so that while one dies of hunger, another bursts from being too full. One must go around naked while another piles clothes upon clothes, only to be eaten by moths. That is why there are so many vagrants and beggars on all the streets, knocking on doors and crying for alms. This affliction of Belial has filled the streets with blood and the towns with weeping and wailing. It has taken us away from the most holy service of Christ and eats away our hearts from the word and seed of God. Even when we do something good, greed comes along and spoils it, the longer the more wicked. Greed is such a hateful affliction before God that if “anyone calls himself a brother, but is greedy, have nothing to do with him and do not even eat with him,” said Paul (1 Corinthians 5). Greed is counted as one of the cursed, deadly afflictions that separates a person from the kingdom of God. It has spoiled the glorious image of God in humans, who made us of honorable standing, so that we could look up toward the heavens. Greed strikes human beings down to the earth so that they cannot get up, but rather like a sow are drawn toward the mud by the devil, choosing to live like worms. This craving made Judas into a betrayer, ruined Ananias and his wife and covered Gehazi, who could have been a disciple and prophet, with leprosy. Indeed, it is a general plague in the world, which allows no one to be satisfied with what he has. All eyes and hearts are set on nothing other than greed, caring for nothing else than how much money they can get. And they never even think about how they may justly invest it. They dress their mules and horses with gold and let Christ and his own go unclothed.

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