Breaking Free from Greed
I’m afraid Sunday’s lesson has crossed the line of preaching and gone right on into meddling. Greed. It plagues us all. The Bible word we are most familiar with is covetousness, but the newer versions have it right when they translate it as plain ole “greed.”
Greed is defined as “desire for more.” It afflicts both the rich and the poor. Whenever we feel dissatisfaction with what we have (not because it is broken or non-functional) and desire something else—newer, brighter, better—we cross the line from need to greed. Most of us, myself included, continue to struggle in the present over the consequences of our past greediness. We are deep in debt because we have allowed our desire for more to charge yet another treasure, buy a house we cannot afford, or drive a flashy new automobile.
Our nation’s economic woes can be often be traced back to the greed of rich men and women who filled their own pockets to the detriment of their companies and employees. However, we are part of the problem as well, because so many of us have overextended ourselves to the point of economic ruin.
Jesus told the story about a rich man who had a surplus. “He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ 18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry”‘ (Luke 12:17-19).
Notice the rich man’s use of personal pronouns – I, me, mine. Not a thought was given to others. What about the laborers that planted and harvested his crops? What about the many around him who did not have enough? No wonder God’s judgment was upon him. “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ 21 “This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:20-21).
Jesus prefaced his parable with this warning, “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). Notice Jesus warns of “all kinds of greed.” Greed takes many forms. For this rich man, it was in his selfish, hoarding behavior. His judgment could have been averted, if he were rich toward God.
How can we break free from greed? By being rich toward God! When God, His work, His people, and those in need around us become more important than our desire for things, we will have broken the chains of greed!
Breaking Free from Greed: Message Notes
- Greed is “Good” (Luke 11:39; Luke 12:15; Ephesians 5:3).
- Greed is a Problem Only of the Wealthy.
- Greed is When you Want Something that Belongs to Someone Else.
What is the Definition of Greed?
- Desire for More
- Desire to Obtain More than One Needs
- Excessive Desire to Acquire or Possess More.
- Its Positive Pole is Egotism; its Negative Pole is Voracity.
- Do you live beyond your means?
- Does buying things make you feel better?
- Are you more in debt this year than you were last year?
- Are you content with what you have until you see the better things of others?
- Do you sacrifice time with your family to provide extra things for your family?
- Have you every thought, “If I only made $1,000 or $5,000 or $10,000 or (fill in the blank) more a year, I would be happy”?
- Have you ever thought, “If I only had… (fill in the blank), then I would be happy”?
- Are you resentful of those who have more than you?
- Do you possess more than what you need?
- Do you give less than 10% of what you earn to the work of God?
What Does God’s Word Say about Greed?
- Greed DECEIVES us (Matthew 13:22).
- Greed LEADS to Other Sinful Behaviors (1 Timothy 6:9-10).
- Greed BLINDS us to What’s Really Important (Luke 12:15).
- Greed can PUSH God Out of our Lives (Colossians 3:5; Matthew 6:24).
How Can I Break Free from Greed?