September 14, 2011
Greed is Contagious
Tell those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which will soon be gone. But their trust should be in the living God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and should give generously to those in need; always being ready to share with others whatever God has given them. By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may take hold of real life" (1 Timothy 6:17-19, NLT).
Friend to Friend
It was a holiday weekend and I was determined to find the best sale in town – so I headed to the mall. Evidently, everyone else had the same idea because the mall parking lot was crammed full. Horns were honking. People were racing into various entrances, an anxious look on their faces. I wanted to cruise the mall, roll down my window and shout, “Seriously? It is only a sale, people!” As I drove on, I thought about the harried scene I had just witnessed and my thoughts turned to the ugly subject of greed. Greed is contagious. If we spend time with people who are prone to jealousy and greed, it will be easier for us to be jealous and greedy as well.
When anyone in my house gets sick, they know what is coming. War! I immediately launch an all-out battle against sickness and germs. I head to the store in order to stock up on necessary supplies. The list is usually the same; juice, soup, crackers, yogurt, throat lozenges, tissues, cold medicine and last, but certainly not least, several cans of Lysol. I then implement my battle plan. The “sickie” is confined to their quarters. They are allotted one bathroom, one sofa and one bedroom for the duration of their illness. The ailing one is not to enter any other area of the barracks … uh, house … without my permission. I then go room to room; spraying every surface that they may have touched or even thought about touching. While the patient is allowed to continue breathing, I tend to follow the feeble one around, spraying the air that borders those breaths. This procedure continues until the patient is completely well. I know. I am obnoxious but I am also successful more times than not. I do not want to catch their disease and feel it is my personal responsibility to quarantine the sick ones in order to halt the progression of the illness.
Greed is a noxious disease, one that demands immediate and fierce spiritual quarantine. We must be careful that we do not catch the spirit of greed and steer clear of those people who are carriers of this deadly disease.
Greed is an inside job, invading our thoughts and then taking up residence in a discontented heart as it opens the door for other deadly sins. Proverbs 4:23 issues a clear warning when it says: “Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do” (NLT). Greed and honesty cannot exist in the same heart and God wants us to give with an honest heart.
"I know, my God, that you test people's hearts. You are happy when people do what is right. I was happy to give all these things. I gave with an honest heart" (1 Chronicles 29:17, NCV).
In this verse “honest" literally means "with integrity." To give with integrity is to give the right thing at the right time, to the right person for the right reason. The reason for giving should always originate in love - God's love - a love that has been given to us in order for us to give it away in His name. The circle of giving is a circle of love and it all started with God when He gave His one and only Son, Jesus Christ.
We are loved, so we give love and because we give love, we receive more love. Matthew 7:2 says "the amount you give to others will be given to you" (NCV). Luke 6:38 offers a clear picture of God's giving plan. "Give and you will receive. You will be given much. Pressed down, shaken together, and running over, it will spill into your lap.The way you give to others is the way God will give to you" (NCV). What and how we give determines what and how much we receive.
We simply cannot out-give God! I have heard it said that the Lord loves a cheerful giver but that He will even accept it from a grouch. I have also heard it said that plenty of people are willing to give God credit but few are willing to give Him cash. The truth is that the Father looks past the gift and examines the heart behind the gift. The motive of the heart determines the acceptability of the gift.
Father, my heart and life are so often filled with greed and discontent. Right now, I choose to take my eyes off of “things” and focus on what You want for my life. Thank You for all that You have given to me and for what You have done in my heart. I praise You, knowing that in You I have everything I need. Please teach me how to give in a way that pleases and honors You.
In Jesus’ name,
Now it’s Your Turn
Read and meditate on Paul’s words in Philippians 4:12-13: “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” What impact do these verses have on an attitude of greed?
We need to understand that greed will destroy our peace and contentment. Examine your life, asking the Holy Spirit to reveal every area of greed. Confess your greed as sin and choose against it while looking for ways to practice “Kingdom” giving. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What areas of my life are most affected by greed?
- What are my idols?
- What “things” or “desires” do I need to give up so that greed will have no grip on my life?
- What specific ways can I begin to practice “Kingdom” giving?
- What is the first step I should take in order to guard against greed?
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Originally published Wednesday, 14 September 2011.