Girlfriends in God - Dec. 12, 2008

December 12, 2008 
Greed:  A Deadly Master 
Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth 
“Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.’" Luke 12:15 (NIV)

Friend to Friend 
If we are not careful, greed can become a deadly master – especially during the Christmas season. Greed is serious business in God's eyes, reeking of idolatry and ulterior motives.  Greed lies easily and fervently urges an already disobedient heart on toward sin.  The true story is told of a self-made millionaire who had lived in New York City his entire life.  Born and raised in a ghetto, he worked hard and achieved much.  Anyone who knew this man would testify to the fact that he was generous - to a fault, some would say.  One year, the man was disturbed by an attitude of greed that seemed to pervade the Christmas holiday season and everyone around him.  Not one to condemn, the millionaire decided that since he had been given so much, it was up to him to do his part in combating greed and came up with an unusual plan.  Wearing a disguise, this man stuffed his pockets with $100 dollar bills and set out for a walk on the streets of New York City. When he saw someone in need, he whipped out one of the bills, pressed it into that person's hands and with a "Merry Christmas", made his way down the street.  "It was the most wonderful part of my holiday season," the man reported, and he has been doing it every since. 

In 2 Corinthians 9:7, the apostle Paul writes, "Each one should give as you have decided in your heart to give. You should not be sad when you give, and you should not give because you feel forced to give. God loves the person who gives happily.” Giving with joy is Kingdom giving!  When we practice Kingdom giving, we are making eternal deposits “taking hold of real life” here on earth!  If, however, our motive is wrong, our gift will be wrong and will not count in the Kingdom of God.  Before you give, ask yourself, “What’s in it for me?”  If the answer is “nothing”, then go ahead and give the gift.  Choosing to examine heart motives will guard our hearts against greed, celebrating the commitment that "He is all I want". 

Greed can be very stressful in that it is never satisfied and never at rest.  There is always something more to be gained and someone else to outdo.  Sheep are dumb enough to eat until they are sick. They simply do not know when to stop.  A heart that is filled with greed behaves the same way. 

Cantaloupe may very well be my favorite food. When it is in season, I stock up and always have some on hand. Last summer, on a particularly hot day, a lunch of cantaloupe sounded luscious...and it was.  Afterwards, I was gone for several hours, running errands.  When I walked back in the front door that afternoon, a foul stench nearly knocked me down, it was so strong.  A dead animal was my first thought.  A plumbing problem was my next.  I began a room-to-room search that ended abruptly at the kitchen sink.  Opening the cabinet underneath, I nearly gagged at the stench that slapped me in the face, making my eyes water. I instantly remembered that I had thrown the cantaloupe peels in the garbage before running errands and forgotten to take them to the outside garbage can as I usually did.  The house reeked and the delicious cantaloupe was forgotten as I threw the peels away, lit every candle I could find and opened every window in an effort to eliminate the odor of rotting fruit.  Nasty!               

Greed acts the same way.  It is the gangrene of the soul.  If not quickly dealt with, greed will contaminate every emotion and create a foul stench in every part of life. “So get rid of all malicious behavior and deceit. Don't just pretend to be good! Be done with hypocrisy and jealousy and backstabbing" (1 Peter 2:1 NLT).  Greed must be treated like garbage!  Deliberately throw it away!  Remove it from your life immediately!  When the first hint of greed and jealousy comes, reject it!  Get rid of it!  Take it to the garbage!  Choose against it!  Fight it with Scripture and bombard it with prayer.  Nail it to the cross and count it dead.  "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (Galatians 2:20 NIV). Every motive in our heart must be nailed to the cross and considered dead. "Consider" is an accounting term and literally means to “reckon" or to “calculate”.  While we will never be free from wrong motives this side of Heaven, we can and must “reckon” those very human and very wrong motives to be dead and through God's power, allow them no power or place in life. 

Greed is powerful and responsible for the downfall of so many. Money is a good servant but a poor master. Martin Luther once said, “God divided the hands into fingers so that money could slip through.” One of the wealthiest men who ever lived was John D. Rockefeller. Following his death, a reporter interviewed Rockefeller’s chief accountant and asked the pointed question, “How much did John D. leave? We know that he was very wealthy.” Without hesitation, the accountant shot back, “Everything! He left everything!” Greed is a deadly master that is never satisfied. 

Let’s Pray 
Father, my heart is so easily filled with greed.  It seems that the more I have, the more I want.  Right now, I choose to focus on what I do have and to be contented.  Help me see You in every opportunity to give this Christmas season and please, Lord, give me Your generous heart so that others can see You in me. 

In Jesus’ name, I pray 

Now It’s Your Turn 
If I asked you to list your five most treasured possessions, what would they be?

Why are these things important to you?

Are these things tools or idols in your life?  Explain the difference.

Which one of these things can you give away this year as an offering of sacrifice and praise to God?

More From The Girlfriends 
You have heard the familiar saying, “The most important things in life aren’t things.”  The truth of those words is often swallowed up in the frantic rush of Christmas giving.  Make this year different.  Ask yourself what you can give that will really matter in the life of that friend or loved one.  How will your gift help someone get through the New Year?  I have some ideas that might help you.  Download my two new MP3s, The Perfect Gift and The Secret of a Merry Christmas and discover how to enjoy a Christ-centered Christmas.  If you need a bible study to get you through the holidays and into the New Year, check out my 35 page E-Book Study, God’s Answer to Stress now available for download. 

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Originally published Friday, 12 December 2008.