Summary: Greed is a temptation that our society promotes. Christians are challenged to say "No," to greed and "Yes," to generosity.
Mark 10:17-21 “Ah, To Have It All” (Greed)
America has a love affair with cars. We like sleek, fast, and powerful. We like big and brawny. Cars define us. They tell the world who we are, or who we’d like to be. America’s love affair with cars is not new, however. Before cars there were carriages, and before carriages there were chariots. Forensic medicine has recently discovered that King Tut probably died from an infection because of a broken leg. They speculate that the young king was out cruising in his chariot when he lost control and crashed. Riches can kill you if you’re not careful.
A few years ago Faye and I led a group to England, Ireland, and Scotland. On that tour we had the opportunity to visit many castles. Each castle seemed to try to outdo the other in architecture and adornments. All were meant to impress the visitor, and proclaim that the owner of the castle was rich, powerful and someone to be dealt with. There were people who still put on their pants one leg at a time, but their riches and possessions set them apart from others, just like riches and adornments have in countless other cultures.
Today we look on the shiny, new cars, and the expensive houses of others and think, “Wouldn’t it be nice.”
THE ALLURE OF RICHES
A rich young man, who perhaps was experiencing a certain emptiness in his life, approached Jesus and asked, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus responded that he should keep all of the commandments. The man responded that he had done so from childhood—he had kept them perfectly. Jesus said that he lacked one thing. He should sell everything that he had, give it to the poor, and follow Jesus. The young man sadly turned away from Jesus. He couldn’t do what Jesus asked because he was very rich.
We have an insatiable craving for riches—more money and possessions. It never stops. When John D. Rockefeller was asked how much money was enough he replied, “Just a little bit more.” He wasn’t joking.
We live in a society that feeds on our greed. It constantly whispers in our ears, “You need more.” But advertisements and movies are not the cause of our greed. Greed has been around since the beginning of humanity. Greed addresses some of our basic needs.
We need to be special. The young man couldn’t give away his money and possessions because he would cease to be notable and he would become just like everyone else.
We have a need to be safe and secure. Money keeps the wolf away from the door—at least we hope that it will. In our present day situation, we look to money to give us a certain level of independence, and dignity.
We truly believe that riches and possession will give us happiness. As Lovie Howell said, “Anyone who says money can’t buy happiness doesn’t know where to shop.” The world has fooled us into believing that money and possession can be our salvation.
The only problem with all of this is that Jesus points out that not only does money not provide our salvation, but also it may even prevent us from being saved. This should perk our attention a little bit!