Summary: I think all of the things on this list, sexual immorality, unrighteousness and greed all share this component: they devalue something which is invaluable.
Ephesians 5:3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.
Which is more valuable, the things we buy or the things we receive and give freely? Think about it.
We pay a high price to purchase a place to live, but life is free.
We'll go to great lengths to get vacation time and visit an exotic location, but the beauty is there for no price.
Some people will give large amounts of money in order to buy favors and create working friendships. But love has no price.
In fact, the things that are most valuable we could never afford to buy. Maybe that's why they have to be free. I think all of the things on this list, sexual immorality, unrighteousness and greed all share this component: they devalue something which is invaluable.
one word in Greek-porneia
Yes. The word from which pornography is derived. In the last installment we discussed some of the good things the Bible has to say about sex. Now we can talk about some of the negatives, not about sex, but about taking sex lightly. As mentioned before, sex is a means by which two become one. It is a sharing of intimacy that knits two souls together. Sex is the means by which God has enabled us to bring eternal human beings into existence, beings that would not exist without our cooperation. Sexual immorality may be thought of as something different.
The ancient use of the root word for porn had to do with selling. When two people "hook up" for a night some people would not condemn them. They both got what they wanted. In a sense this is true. Both chose to give something away in order to get something they wanted. An exchange took place. Both got what they wanted. The Bible teaches neither got what they needed. Instead of the act being a culmination of innumerable acts of kindness and sacrifice, sharing at a more intimate level what has already been shared on every other level-the intertwining of two souls-they made sex little more than rubbing two bodies together until both partners, hopefully, had an ecstatic feeling for a few seconds. Something of immeasurable value is reduced to a commodity for exchange. Deriving your sexual pleasure by viewing pornography removes the intimacy and sharing even further, making the gift of sexuality even cheaper. All of what the Bible calls impurity might be looked at like that-the cheapening of something of immeasurable value.
Have you ever been with a group of friends, someone did or said something and someone said "Dude! That's not right!" We might think of unrighteousness that way. If it's easier to have a few examples in mind, just think about the 10 Commandments from Exodus 20. Add to that what Jesus said about those 10 (Matthew 5-7)-that it's not the doing of the deed alone God is concerned with, it's the condition of the heart and mind. If you're contemplating all the ways you would enjoy seeing your enemy die, you may not have committed murder, but you have murder in your heart. That's un-right. If you haven't stolen your neighbor's phone, but you really wish you had it instead of him or her, you've already stolen in your heart. That's unrighteous. God wants our actions to be right and our hearts to be right-healthy-peaceful.
This is more difficult when we live in a culture where many people around us are not right. We have to stand alone sometimes, to be different. A pure heart is something of great value. We devalue our own hearts when we take their purity lightly. Paul calls the church to be different from the surrounding culture-to set a standard for having your heart and mind and actions right, loving, peaceful, and generous.
One thing opposed to generosity is greed
There is a story that when John D. Rockefeller, the first billionaire, was asked how much money was enough, he said 'just a little bit more'. For most of us the way we make money in order to attain the things we need or want is to exchange our time and expertise. In other words we give of ourselves in order to get something we value. If we begin to value what we get in exchange above our own character and intrinsic value, we lose something in the exchange. Jesus said "what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his own soul, and what can he give in exchange for his soul?" (Mark 8:36-37)
Goethe wrote the classic story of Faust. In it, a devil offers Faust all he wants, money, pleasure, fame and power, in exchange for his soul. Faust agrees. The demon makes good his promise (something which almost never happens in reality). Faust gets everything he wants, but loses himself in the process. At the end of the story he is pulled down to hell. Greed is that desire to have anything, whether money or power or security or pleasure, combined the willingness sell yourself to get what you want.