Greed is a character flaw that runs deep within the heart of America and one that we see too often in business, government and individuals. The sin of Greed is a powerful force that can easily infect us individually, and it’s one I have struggled with at times. So we must constantly be on guard against it. But we should also call it out when we see it reflected in our government and its institutions.
In case you missed it, TVA just filed suit against several individuals to gain access to their farmland “for the taking of a temporary right under the power of eminent domain and award of just compensation to the owners and parties of interest.” It has been reported that the owners of the subject land are not interested in selling their land.
TVA’s lust for the property of others is a sin. But an agency or organization does not sin on its own. Rather, sin is committed by individuals. So when we see an organization, agency or government committing insidious acts, we must resist the temptation to blame the entity alone. Rather, we must look to its members, executives or representatives. Never let this truth pass you by.
There are individuals within TVA who are individually responsible for the Greed that is being displayed in their unjust desire to take and to steal what is not theirs. These individuals may hide behind the three letter agency name they represent, but they are personally responsible, and to blame, for the evil acts of the agencies they lead. And yes, taking another individual’s personal property without their consent, otherwise known as stealing, is evil.
There is a second truth that we can learn from TVA’s latest strategy. Do not be deceived into thinking that just because courts might rule that something is “legal” it is then just or right. This includes ruling that a developer, agency or government can take land from an unwilling party.
Declaring something to be “legal” has never set the bar of what is right, nor righteous. Whenever man establishes an arbitrary standard, that standard can always be reversed or revised, thus affirming the truth that man’s laws are fallible.
There is only one standard that is true, right, infallible, and righteous. And God has weighed in on all matters of significance and consequence, including Greed in general, and taking someone else’s property in specific. There are literally countless passages in the Bible that instruct us about this topic, including the ten commandments, moving boundaries, taking the property of the weak, and so many more. To be clear, all of us are “weak” when compared with the multi-billion dollar budgets, holdings, and resources of TVA.
So, when it comes to TVA’s abusive effort to take what is not theirs, using the power of a court, via the threat and cost of a lawsuit, rest assured that evil intentions are at work. But remember that these decisions are not simply some impersonal government agency’s policies at play. Rather, know that it is a man or a woman, or even several men and women, who are willfully conspiring to take what is not theirs to advance their own selfish desires.
In this specific case, I have met some of the individuals responsible for this Greed via TVA. Some are members of local, bible-teaching churches. Yet their faith is at odds with their choices in their workplace. They are doing to their “neighbor” what they would never want done to themselves. In so doing, these men and women are violating a foundational value that they would likely say they embrace. What a sad reality. But they are not to be condemned but rather challenged in a respectful and even prayerful manner. We should all remember that we are all frail and too often struggle with our own shortfalls and character flaws. But we must still share truth regardless.
Just as God judged Ahab and Jezebel for stealing a citizen’s farmland several thousand years ago, I believe He will judge these men and women who are seeking to steal the farmland of several of their local citizens and their families. Since God is “the same yesterday, today and forever,” He does not change with the whims of man, or the rulings of a court. His Truths remain, as does His Justice.
So the good news is this. Sooner or later Justice will prevail, and Greed will be exposed and punished. Of course, most of us like to see justice prevail in the short-term though. So if you agree with these sentiments, please share this article with others. Perhaps God’s Truth, or a groundswell of opposition in our community, will cause the men and women responsible for this latest TVA effort to reverse their course of Greed.
“Listen to me, you who know right from wrong, you who cherish my law in your hearts…” (Isaiah 51:7)
TVA has to supply electricity to everyone located in the lands of the Tennessee Valley. Now that the demand for electricity is growing again in those lands TVA has to add new transmission lines necessary to instantaneously serve the larger loads. Without the additional transmission capacity the total electricity that can be instantaneously transmitted will be limited to today’s capacity. This will only be a problem when TVA customers make unusually high demands for electricity such as when the outside temperatures are over 100 degrees or below -10 degrees, and rolling blackouts will have to occur to equally ration the limited transmission capacity with all customers.
How would you like to be without air conditioning or heat or lights for several hours a day when the outside temperatures are unusually hot or frigid?
Although the amount of land necessary for new transmission lines is relatively small, the strategic importance is very high for the reasons given above. Unfortunately, small parts of somebody’s land has to be used if we are to avoid the painful alternative of occasionally living in the dark ages for a few hours a day.
As a practical matter the issue is not, is the land necessary? The real issue is, Whose land should be used?
Should landowner “A” be forced to give up some of his land simply because it happens to be the most direct route? Or, should landowner “A” have the right to force TVA to instead use the less direct, and thus more costly, land of his neighbor, landowner “B”.
As much as TVA wants everybody to win, there are always going to be winners and losers. What is the righteous way out of a no win situation?
Donald, you raise all good and valid points. And from a purely secular standpoint, I understand all the arguments. However, I’ve been searching the Bible to find out what it has to say about an issue like eminent domain. To date, I have found no verses or principles that encourage or approve of someone or some agency/government taking from an individual for the benefit of that government or agency. However, I have found numerous examples and verses that condemn the taking of personal property. From a practical standpoint though, if the personal property owner is willing to accept the financial offer of the agency or government, you then have a willing party. But absent a willing party, the dilemma should rest with the agency, not the personal property owner, to figure out how to resolve the issue.