Summary: Discusses the sin of Greed
The Seven Deadly Sins – Part 2
This is part two of my series on the Seven Deadly Sins. Last week I covered Pride and this week I will focus on second sin, Greed. When we think about greed, it takes on a different form depending on the conversation you are in. For example, growing up in a family with 4 brothers and sisters, it was easy to view my siblings as greedy. Let me give you an example that I am sure you are familiar with from your own family. It is Sunday afternoon and the dinner has been made. The rule for the most part was you had to finish what was on your plate before you could get more. Now with seven people at the table and a limited amount of food to be had, there were times when some of us would eat faster in order to get seconds. My oldest brother loves cornbread so in my mind whenever we had cornbread for dinner, he was greedy. My food was potatoes and sweets and I can confess that I was definitely greedy.
When you consider the definition of generosity, it means letting others get the credit, praise or in the case of dinner at my house, more of the food. It is giving without having expectations of the other person. Greed wants to get its “fair share” and a bit more. Let me tell you how I learned to like oatmeal raison cookies. My parents always taught us that if we had something, we had to share with our siblings. Sometimes I would take my allowance and buy the ready bake cookies, especially chocolate chip (one of my favorites as a child). When I made them, of course my brothers and sisters had to have some. One day I decided to try oatmeal raison cookies. I baked them and of course when my brothers and sisters found out what kind they were, they did not want any. Only my father and my mother would eat them – I had hit it big. When others thought I just had a taste for oatmeal raison cookies, the truth was I did not want to share my cookies so I brought some that my brothers and sisters would not like. I was motivated by greed although it did not come across as such. Yeah I know, I had some issues as a child, but you know what, God is very good because I still have some issues that He is working on.
All of us will face the sin of greed at some point in our lives, especially as it relates to money. The message this morning will focus on greed for money. Consider the following scriptures:
Exodus 20:17 “Do not want anything that belongs to someone else. Don’t want anyone’s house, wife or husband, slaves, oxen, donkey or anything else.” (CEV)
1 Timothy 6:10 “The love of money causes all kinds of trouble. Some people want money so much that they have given up their faith and caused themselves a lot of pain.” (CEV)
In these two scriptures, it becomes very clear that greed is not a part of God’s plan for His people. In the very beginning He warns us not to want something that belongs to someone else. That is greed in its simplest form. Paul warns Timothy not to fall into the trap of desiring money because the search for it has caused some to give up on their faith. If you read the previous verses, Paul ridicules the idea that God is in the business of passing out material gain in exchange for our spiritual cooperation, as some would have us think. The prosperity message that is flowing so richly is some churches would have us believe that the more spiritual you are, the more God will bless you with wealth. However, that is not the reason we seek to have a relationship with God. The question of greed is one that all of us must face, on our jobs, in our daily activity and most importantly, in our walk with God.
I. Greed and Power
It is not very satisfying to have a lot of money if you do not have the power that comes with it. We see it daily in the news with articles and sound bytes of things rich people are involved in. Some of the more prominent magazines focus on the people who have “made it” and the things they own verses the everyday person who is successful but maybe not rich. The attainment of earthly goods is a means to an end – the attainment of power. The money, real estate, cars, etc are simply things used to achieve, wield and display personal power. These things can be used to intimidate or bribe others, reinforce one’s own illusions about what is important or to build up a feeling of success. The real problem here is more the desire for power than the actual greed. Having material possessions gives us a sense of power that is often used against others. I read a study once that stated the suicide rate among those who are rich are higher than those who are poor, especially if they lose their riches. What is interesting is that it is not always the loss of the riches that causes some to commit suicide, the but the loss of the power that comes with the riches.