‘The Hobbit’ and the generous heart

This holiday season’s most successful movie was “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.” While set in the fantasy world of Middle-earth, one of its themes is familiar also in our real-life world: the destructive power of greed.

Dragon sickness

The archer Bard kills Smaug the dragon, who long hoarded ancient piles of treasure under the Lonely Mountain. But Smaug’s covetousness lives on in Thorin Oakenshield. Initially motivated by a desire to reclaim his and his fellow dwarves’ ancestral home, Thorin now succumbs to “dragon sickness”: an all-consuming lust for wealth. The gold, jewels, and other riches Smaug stole threaten to steal Thorin’s soul. His obsession with the hoard — especially with the spectacular, priceless gem, the Arkenstone — makes him suspicious, isolated and bitter. His stubborn refusal to share the treasure with Bard, who wants to provide for the people left homeless in the dragon’s dying attack, is one cause of the deadly battle that follows. Almost too late Thorin realizes, as he says in the movie, “If more of us valued home above gold, it would be a merrier world.”

Generosity is the cure

Jesus knew “dragon sickness” is dangerous: “Guard yourself against all kinds of greed,” he warned in Luke 12:15a. Money and material possessions can worm their way into our minds and hearts, clawing out emotional and spiritual space that belongs to God alone.

Our capitalist, consumer-centric culture confronts youth daily (as it does us all) with material possessions’ allure. Youth hear advertisers claim more “stuff” will make us happy. They take cues from adults’ choices about spending money and acquiring things. Now is the time for young people to learn how to inoculate themselves against dragon sickness!

Christian faith proclaims generosity is the cure. What’s more, it’s the life for which we were created. “God loves a cheerful giver,” (2 Corinthians 9:7c) wrote the apostle Paul. God calls us to share freely what we own as a way of sharing ourselves — just as God freely shares new life with us in Jesus.

Question of the day: When have you felt "dragon sickness"?

Focal Scriptures: Deuteronomy 15:7-11; Luke 12:13-21; 2 Corinthians 9:7-11.

For a complete lesson on this topic visit LinC.

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