“WISDOM OF LIVING (16): GREED” By Pastor YAU
6:9-10; Proverb 28:25
1) We live in a GREEDY society: Greed, like worry, is part of human nature. No one, if any, is completely exempted from greed. Greed, without control, has ruined nations, families and many lives. We live in a world that promotes greed in many forms: more, higher, better, larger, never have enough. TV commercials keep feeding human greedy nature with all kinds of tempting things: make more money, buy a newer car, move in to a bigger house, wear better or more fashionable outfits, dine in nicer places, have more expensive jewelry, have smoother skin and shinier hairs, the list goes on and on. While most of these things are not sinful in themselves, the obsession of them and the strife of grasping more without control are sinful and harmful to all men.
2) The Bible talks about greed 81 times: The Bible has so much to say about greed and covet in all their forms and objects. From Exodus, the 10th Commandment, to Revelation, the Bible lists all forms of greed and covetousness and their harm to men who fall into its trap.
WHAT IS GREED?
1) Greed is a mental problem: Greed is a “more is better”, “get it all” and “never have enough” mentality. We are not talking about meeting the basic needs of everyday life. What we are talking is the covetous “DESIRE” to have and have and have more without end. We see this in children wanting to have more toys, more toys and more toys regardless of all the piling up and closet full of toys they already have. It is that kind of “never have enough” mental problem we are talking about. Greed has nothing to do with how much one already has. It has to do with his desire to “have more.”
2) It is a social problem: “Greed” has caused problems all thru human history. It continues to cause many problems today. Many wars, crimes, downfalls of great rules of law and businesses had been destroyed because of greed. Millions of lives were lost and billions of dollars were stolen, lives were lost, families were destroyed, all because of greed of people in all walks of life. Many crimes were committed because of unrestrained greed. The harm to the society caused by greed is beyond measure.
3) It is also a personal problem: Greed has caused many grieves on individuals and families. Many people had lost their lives, their future, marriages, their precious reputation even freedom because of greed. Families shattered, children suffered, future destroyed because of greedy adults. Greed is also contagious. Greedy people will infect others around them, their colleagues, friends, neighbors, family and children. Greed is a mental and spiritual disease that deserves our utmost attention.
FACTS OF GREED:
1) All are greedy: We are all greedy in some degree, somewhere in our life and in something. Christians can be as greedy as non-Christians if we are not careful in controlling our appetite to live a balanced life.
2) Greed is everywhere: We see greedy people in politics, in business, in schools, at homes and even in church. We see greedy people as young as children and as old as great-grand parents. Men are as greedy as women. Educated scholars are as greedy as illiterates.
3) Greed covets everything: People are greedy on many things: money, position, recognition, power, control, fame, pride, material procession, just to list a few. Different people has different list of things they never have enough.
WHY ARE WE GREEDY? The causes of greed is as various as the faces of men. The following are just a few major reasons why people are greedy:
1) Spiritual emptiness: As man was created both a spiritual and physical being, it is a natural tendency to lean on the fulfillment of the physical when there is little or none on the spiritual. God never intended for man to lean on one side of the components in which we all were made, He wants us to live a balanced life with all that He has created: all the material provisions and the spiritual quality He had endowed in us. Whenever man abandons his relationship with God, the only thing that is left for him is material possession which will never fill up that empty space of spiritual vacuum. That’s why greed will never stop.
2) Insecurity: Men were born with many basic needs and one of them is the need of security. While the need of security itself is neither sinful nor bad, building a false sense of security on greedy accumulation of material possession is both sinful and bad. We all know that material processions, social acceleration or power will never build any true inner security. That’s why we see people with great wealth and high power, have mental and emotional problems.
3) Selfishness: The root of greed is selfishness Greedy people are selfish people. They look only after their own wants at the expense of others. Children who want more and more toys don’t care if their parents can afford or if other children have anything at all. All that the greedy people ask is to fulfill that empty “want” space regardless of how it may affect others.
4) Pride: This is the side effect of insecurity: pride or showoff. Many greedy people were driven by the false sense of pride to have more, get higher, dressed better, etc. to impress others whom they may not like. They feel that by having it all, they are better than others. Instead, many greedy people stumbled and fall flat because of the faulty ways they employed in acquiring what they want. The disgusting attitude of pride isolates them from others even people close to them. Greed is not a personal issue. It stirs up strives, envy, hurt and even emotional injury on others.
THE HARM OF GREED: In contrast to the secular belief that “Greed is good,” the Bible condemns greed as a cardinal sin. God sees the serious impact of greed on His creation, especially in man, He includes in the Ten Commandments to stop people from being greedy. (Exodus 20:17) Greed and it variations are mentioned 81 times in the Bible. There are more than a dozen warnings raised by the Word of God. Let me list a few I deem as more common and applicable for us to take heed.
1) Greed leaves NO room for God: Love of the world or greedy on things in it, will drive God out of our lives and hinder us from serving Him. (2 Timothy 4:10; 1 John 2:15) Demas deserted Paul on his missionary trip because he could not stop loving the world and all the things in it. Many Christian take jobs and second jobs for more money that they never have time or energy to worship God, much less to serve Him.
2) Greed leads to wicked deeds: Love or greedy of money will lead to wicked deeds: The horrible fall of Balaam, the Old Testament prophet, because of his love of the wicked wages placed him as a warning of all the people in history. Obsessed with the world and all that is in it will lead us to depart from the path we suppose to pursue—the path of life. (2 Peter 2:15)
3) Greed destroys people: Love or greedy for money will lead people to all evil, trouble, harm and destruction. (1 Tim. 6:9-10) No amount of money can buy the peace of mind by walking the path of God and life. Many crimes and destruction of lives are results of greed.
4) Greed destroys family: Greed of material possessions may cause harm in the family. (Proverb 15:16-17) Many homes were destroyed, relationship between family members shattered because of money or love of it. We read about lawsuits were filed and murders were committed in families all because of greed of money.
5) Greed will lead to many more harms.” It will push people to steal, (Romans 13:9) causing jealousy between people, (Gal. ) idol worship because the love of the world occupies one’s heart, (Eph. 5:5) strives between friends, (Proverb 28:25) and many more.
CONCLUSION: We need to remember that greed is not only limited to monetary matters. It includes fame, power, recognition, control, position, pride, evil desires and many others. This is a problem of inner attitude, a spiritual empty condition. The cure of greed is not by controlling our desires or appetite but by:
1) Surrendering our lives to the Lord and His control.
2) Trusting His goodness and provision.
3) Examining the purpose of our lives, and
4) Finally and most importantly, be content with what the Lord has provided you. Treasure and enjoy what you have and feel good about it.