Summary: Sermon Series by Dr. Tim Pollock
Greed is one of humanity’s crowning sins. Greed destroys relationships and homes. In fact, greed can destroy an entire family. “House” in the Hebrew language means more than just a structure, it means a home. And it even means more than just a home, it’s talking about multiplied generations, an entire family tree. Not only does greed for money destroy a home, but an out of balance desire to be famous or anything that diverts our hearts from the Lord. Becoming a slave to anything or anyone but Christ is going to have an adverse effect on a home and on a marriage.
One of the most common causes of divorce and family dysfunction is when one or more of the parents become preoccupied with a career, hobby, money or success. The word “greedy” comes from a word that means to cut something, that is, to want something so bad that you are willing to cut corners to get it, even if that means cutting off people or the Lord.
It’s not easy to balance everything you have to do in life, but becoming a slave to sports, possessions or careers is just asking for trouble. God does not want us to live stressed-out, over stretched lives that are in hot pursuit of temporal things. Over-pushing for gain can take a serious toll on a relationship. God calls us to have a well-adjusted, emotionally healthy homes.
Consider a parallel truth from Habakkuk 2:9, “Woe to him that coveteth an evil covetousness to his house, that he may set his nest on high, that he may be delivered from the power of evil!” If there is an “evil” covetousness then there must also be a “good” covetousness. We certainly ought to have a “good” covetousness for our home. Without dreams or visions for our homes, lives, or marriages we would never accomplish anything. In contrast, there is an “evil” covetousness that we may, as the prophet laments, “set our nest on high.” This picturesque language likens some people to an animal that tries to put its nest high above others away from danger and maybe higher so that others can see how big they are. The prophet Habakkuk goes on to say, “Thou hast consulted shame to thy house by cutting off many people, and hast sinned against thy soul” (Hab 2:10). God said that there is a way that we can “cut off” our family. I believe we can cut off others by becoming workaholics or sportholics or funaholics. You name it, we can pretty much get addicted to it, and any kind of an addiction is hard on a family.
There is nothing wrong with gain or prosperity. Many of the Bible’s most spiritual and wonderful Christians were favored with much worldly gain. Abraham for example, was very well to do, as was Joseph and David. However, when my pursuit of gain involves anything that is illegal, immoral, unethical, or unbiblical it does exactly the opposite. We noticed, in Habakkuk 2:9 that this person wants to, “set up their nest on high to be delivered from the power of evil.” Now, why would that be a bad thing? Why is God warning us about setting our nest on high for what seems to be a good motive? I believe God is warning us that sometimes, even our desire for safety or a nice home, for example, can come between God and ourselves. We never want to get to a place where we think we have enough money in the bank or enough insurance that we really don’t need to pray much. He’s reminding us to never get outside of our need for God. Stay desperate for God.
Notice the wonderful promise connected with Proverbs 15:27, “He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house; but he that hateth gifts shall live.” Wonderful, life-giving relationships happen when we promote a spirit of giving and not getting. What does it mean to “hate a gift?” First of all, this is a clear warning about bribery. Secondly, we need to have a holy hatred for anything that troubles our house. If something is hurting my family, even if it appears as gain, it is to be rejected.
I remember reading the story of Benjamin Franklin and the wooden whistle. When he was a young boy he saw a whistle in the window of a store. He came back home and took out all of his savings and went in and purchased that beautiful whistle. Ben was so excited. He came home and the first person he showed was his brother. Not only was his brother not impressed, but also he laughed him to ridicule and said, “How ridiculous to pay so much money for a whistle.” The moral that Benjamin Franklin pointed out was that many people pay way too much for their “whistle” – whether it is riches, fame or whatever. We may get what we want, but pay too high of a price.