Greed; June 24, 2018

Luke 12:15 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.”

Jesus’ instructions to “be on your guard” here are something we overlook, I think. It is accepted that “greed is bad,” but that’s on the surface. Some consultants actually teach that greed is good, because it can be a powerful motivator for performance. On top of that, Jesus here specifies, “all kinds of greed.” There are many kinds, and none of them lead to a good end. The parable that follows seems particularly fitting for the present day. We would tend to think that the man who had a bumper crop was to be congratulated, and his desire to store his wealth only reasonable. We wouldn’t even call him greedy! We, like the man in the parable, forget that nothing God provides is for us alone. Rather, God’s provision is to be used as God intends, advancing His kingdom and blessing others. We are indeed blessed in the process, but that’s not to be our focus. Greed is never fully satisfied. About a hundred years ago, one of the richest men in America, or the world, for that matter, was asked, “How much is enough.” His response spoke volumes: “A little more.” Recently we have seen that in numbers of politicians, who are already wealthy beyond their ability to spend it and yet are reaching out for more, often in underhanded or even illegal ways. Such people have a poverty of soul that is pathetic. To go back to Jesus’ mention of “all kinds” of greed, some people are hungry for power, others for physical pleasure, others for fame and adulation. None of them end well, and generally cause a lot of destruction to many in the process. Paul was talking about money, but his words to Timothy apply to every kind of greed: “But godliness with contentment is great gain.” (1 Timothy 6:6) The whole section before and after that verse fits perfectly with what Jesus said. Real wealth cannot be measured in this world’s terms.

This seems particularly timely to me because we have been dealing with inheritance issues recently, both with ourselves and with another family, and it was a question of inheritance that prompted Jesus to say this. Inheritance is by definition not earned, but at the same time we tend to feel entitled to it, so it can be quite a trap. I’ve encountered people who insisted they neither needed nor wanted any inheritance, saying very pious things about seeking first the kingdom and the like, but when push came to shove, they were very grasping. That is sad indeed. However, I can’t look down on them, because I have benefited from inheritance myself. Material things, including money, aren’t bad in themselves, but they can be very distracting. I need to apply Jesus’ standards, from Matthew 6:33 and elsewhere, and recognize that I already have immense treasure in heaven, and not be grasping of anything here on earth.

Father, You have been and continue to be more than gracious toward us. Help me indeed rest, relax, and rejoice in You, allowing You to pour Your resources of all sorts through me to others, for their blessing and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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