Summary: Benedictine Monks had rules for just how much each monk was to eat in the monastery. But if one monk takes more than his share of the limited food, another monk goes without dinner lunch.
We are continuing our teaching series around the Seven Deadly Sins of Family. This is the fifth in the series. Our fifth deadly sin for families is greed.
The Sin of Greed
In the iconic 1987 film, Wall Street, Gordon Gekko, played by Michael Douglas gives an affirming speech in favor of greed. Gekko is advising a the shareholders of a company called Teldar. He says that Teldar’s executives and Board have been doing a bad job.
The new law of evolution in corporate America seems to be survival of the unfittest. Well, in my book you either do it right or you get eliminated. In the last seven deals that I’ve been involved with, there were 2.5 million stockholders who have made a pretax profit of 12 billion dollars. … I am not a destroyer of companies. I am a liberator of them! The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. … And greed, you mark my words, will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the USA. Thank you very much.
Unlike, Mr. Gekko, the Bible is not as high on greed. The Bible teaches that greed is a powerful toxin in our world today. The global financial crisis of more than a decade ago was caused in part by greed.
I want to tell you an ancient story of tremendous greed from 800 years before Christ. If you have a Bible, find 1 Kings 21 with me.
See if you can spot greed in our story. I want introduce you to four colorful characters.
First, I want you to meet Naboth the famer: “Now Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard in Jezreel, beside the palace of Ahab king of Samaria” (1 Kings 21:1).
Character #1: Naboth
Yes, Naboth owned a vineyard in the little village of Jezreel around eight miles from Megiddo. Megiddo is the site of Armageddon of Revelation so this is an important piece of land. In fact, locals will tell you this is the “bread basket of Israel.” It is still a really important piece of land to this day. Naboth’s vineyard was right next to the King’s royal gardens. So, when the king looked to expand his garden, he wished to have Naboth’s vineyard.
Naboth could hear the loud music from every shindig the king and queen put on over the years. He was aware of the rumors of what when on behind closed doors and behind the tall walls. And what he had not heard, he certainly had seen enough to write a “tell-all” over the years. The king wants Naboth’s little vineyard (1 Kings 21:2).
Like a Texas rancher, Naboth’s land has been in his family for years and he has no desire to sell it but to pass it along to his children. He could remember his father and his grandfather working the land. He had fond memories of his mother and grandmother raising their family right there on the land. He could reach down into the soil and grab dirt that generations had walked on – the land meant a great deal to him.
Now, Naboth is a father and a husband (2 Kings 9:26). Most importantly, he is a man of principle – a man of the Word. Listen to the 1st words Scripture records from Naboth’s mouth: “But Naboth said to Ahab, ‘The Lord forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers’” (1 Kings 21:3). Naboth’s reply to the king left no wiggle room for haggling – this land wasn’t for sale for any price. Naboth was a man of conviction. Naboth was a good man.
Let me circle back to his vineyard for a moment. You need to know the land of Israel was different in Naboth’s day and he knew it.
When I was young boy, in our school we sang this song in music class:
“This land is your land, this land is my land
From the California to the New York island
From the Redwood Forest, to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and me.”
That may be true of America but in Naboth’s day, the land belonged to God. And Naboth remembered his Sabbath school teachers teaching him the third book of the Bible, the book of Leviticus. He knew the land of Israel belonged to the Lord at this time (Leviticus 25:23). He knew the land of Israel could not be sold permanently (Leviticus 25:23). At best, Naboth could only have leased his land to someone else. And leasing was only if he were in dire financial need but Naboth did not need to sell. Plus, God had wisely commanded that the land wasn’t to be sold from one tribe to another (Numbers 36:7-9). God had commanded this so that no one of the 12 tribes would grab a monopoly.