Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”
Some sections of scripture, we bypass, not because we don’t understand or intend to ignore the instruction, but because we think it doesn’t apply. Our focus text today may be a good example of a text we choose to overlook. “Be on your guard against all kinds of greed.”
I have never thought of myself as a greedy person. How about you? But rather than jump onto another Biblical text, let’s stop a moment and take a closer look.
So, what is greed? Greed is an intense and selfish desire for something, especially wealth, power, or food.
Still convinced we’re talking about somebody else? Well, let’s examine the warning signs of greed.
(1) Selfish, self-centered behavior– Okay. I confessed this problem in a previous entry. Radio personalities and preachers have big egos. What about you? Do you see yourself as better than others? Do you see what you have or your position in life as superior to others?
When I lived with my grandparents, it was a rare occasion when I had the house to myself. Before she left, my grandmother left a package of ground beef so I could cook hamburgers for my lunch. I have no way of knowing how much meat was in the wrapper, but it was a lot, more than one person should ever eat in one sitting. So I decided to make one giant burger. Soon after dropping the massive patty in the pan, somebody knocked on the door. A friend of mine had shown up and wanted me to play ball. Then he smelled the burger I was cooking. “You wouldn’t happen to have an extra burger, would you?” he asked. “Nope. Just made one,” I replied. To this day, I still feel guilty for that act of selfishness. And that was more than fifty years ago.
Early on, I became aware of a character flaw that God wanted me to fix. All of us struggle with sin in varying degrees and types. Once we become aware of the ungodly behavior trait, then it’s time to do something about it. We do that through confession, and a willingness and fervent desire to change with God’s help.
(2) Competitive desire to have more than others– Competition can be healthy and it’s not a bad thing, unless it leads to hurt feelings, damaged relationships, or feelings of superiority over others.
(3) Inflated opinion of yourself over others– Nothing wrong with setting the bar high for success, but that ambition should always be tempered with Christian humility. Thinking you deserve what you have because you are superior to others leads to snobbery, arrogance, and disdain for those less fortunate.
(4) Lack of compassion and empathy for others– Another character flaw caused by greed is losing concern for the plight of others. Living in an it’s-all-about me world desensitizes you to neediness. Help rendered to the less fortunate becomes nothing more than a tax deduction or a way of gaining attention.
(5) Manipulation for personal gain– Greed can drive you to take advantage of others to get what you want. Manipulation can be manifest in all manner of ungodly behavior like deception, lying, cheating, gossiping, and stealing.
(6) Envy, jealous, covetous behavior– This facet of greed leads to disrespect, rudeness, grudges, ill-will, hatred, unwillingness to help or give to others, and broken relationships.
(7) An ungenerous spirit– The person with an ungenerous spirit gives grudgingly or not at all. That individual is a hoarder who refuses to turn loose of what he has for the benefit of others, regardless of the need.
When we examine greed and its accompanying behavior, we see it’s a bigger deal than we thought. There are probably characteristics of greed in all of us. Did anyone of the aforementioned ungodly qualities sound like you? Like I said, God always gives us something to work on.
For more on this topic, check out this article: Unbalanced Christian Faith
Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 2 (April – June) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.