Summary: Greed is listed as one of the worst of sins - right up there with lewdness, adultery, and murder. But how likely am "I" to be plagued by greed? And how can God cure me of this terrible sin?
Back in the 1800’s there was once a 350# wrestler in Europe named “Yusuf, the terrible Turk.” Three hundred and fifty pounds is a fairly huge man, and there wasn’t an ounce of flab on the man. He was formidable. And in his four years in Europe, he was impossible to beat, holding the undisputed title as champion there. Then in 1898, he sailed to America and challenged the undefeated US champion to a match - a man named “Strangler” Lewis.
Now, “Strangler” was apparently about my size, weighing in at just a little over 200 pounds. But despite his rather small size, he was the heavyweight wrestling champion in America, having defeated many men much larger than himself. Strangler secret was a very simple hold. He would get around behind his opponent, put his massive arm around their neck and cut off their oxygen. Thus the name “strangler”. When his opponents passed out he’d “pin” them and win the match.
But when Strangler met Yusuf, he faced a problem - Yusuf didn't have a neck. One commentator noted that Yusuf’s body went from his head to his massive shoulders, with very little in between. Thus, Strangler Lewis couldn’t get his hold and it wasn't long that the Yusuf flipped Lewis to the mat and pinned him.
After winning the championship, the Terrible Turk demanded all $5000 (a fairly significant amount of money back in 1898) be paid to him in gold. He wrapped the championship belt around his waist, stuffed his gold into the belt and boarded the next ship back to Europe. But halfway across the Atlantic, a storm struck and the ship began to sink. When Yusuf attempted to get into a lifeboat, he fell into the water and disappeared beneath the waves never to be seen again.
What do you think happened?
That’s right. All his great wealth was too much even for this mighty man.
He sank like an anvil, and his great riches destroyed him.
APPLY: Now, in our story today, we read about a man whose inheritance threatened to destroy him as well. He and his brother were arguing over that inheritance and he interrupted Jesus’ ministry asking our Savior to intercede in this legal matter, and rule in his favor.
Jesus was not impressed.
He said: "Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?"
Then Jesus used this conflict between the two brothers to teach His followers a “life lesson.”
“Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” Luke 12:15
I read one internet site where some psychologist was trying to say that squabbles over inheritances aren’t really about greed – they’re about “feelings.”
He was a psychologist.
For folks like him, everything’s about feelings.
But let me be very clear here. In most quarrels over a family estate - it’s ALL about greed.
It’s all about: “I want MY share of the inheritance… and I want it first."
One Newspaper headline noted: “Where there's a will there's a war”
And the more money or property is involved, the nastier the conflict can get.
ILLUS: My mother told of the trouble that took place in her family when her dad died.
Her 3 brothers worked together to squeeze mom and my aunt out of their share of the inheritance. In fact, their older brother – a leader in the church in town – ended up buying the farm for a song.
Now, why would her brothers do that to their sisters?
Why would that “godly” brother steal the farm for himself?
(wait for an answer from the audience)
That’s right - they were greedy.
Greed is a terrible thing.
Jesus said that Greed was one of the attitudes that can make us unclean.
“For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, GREED, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘UNCLEAN.’” Mark 7:21-23
Romans 1:29 declares that (godless and wicked men) “have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, GREED and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice.”
And Ephesians 5:3 warns us that “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.”
Greed is equated with wickedness, godlessness, adultery, slander, murder, etc. And amongst top 10 of just about any list in Scripture of sin… is Greed.
In fact, Colossians 3:5 condemns greed, saying it is idolatry.
Now why would Jesus call these men’s inheritance problems - a greed problem?
1st - They both wanted something they hadn’t earned. Very few kids “deserve” and have earned the money they received from an inheritance. When my mom died sometime back I got a share of the inheritance from her estate. But I didn’t deserve a penny of it. I owed her and dad far more than I could ever repay.