Greed: Deadly sin number 2

There was once a packrat who took great pleasure in accumulating things. To him, it was a wonderful game. He never broke any of the rules. He never stole, never cheated, and never coerced. He came by his wealth legitimately. He was able to accumulate a great deal because he never spent more than he had to in order to survive.
The packrat figured he had no worries. He'd accumulated so much by being miserly that he'd be able to live his final years in comfort. There would be no final years, however. The packrat died rather suddenly.
Having accepted Jesus, the rat soon found himself in Heaven. It wasn't long before he was asking about his rewards. An older saint escorted him to a vault where his rewards were kept. When it was opened, there were only a few paltry coins in the vault. "I don't understand!" said the packrat. "Surely I have earned more than this!"
"You could have." said the saint. "You were given every opportunity. That was why you were given so much in your life."

What is Greed?

Some people get confused about greed. They think greed equates to the accumulation of wealth. That gathering or storing up material possessions is sinful. There's nothing wrong with having money or things. To believe so is a kind of greed in itself, stemming from jealousy. There is no rule that says we are only entitled to have as much as the average person.

Greed is a matter of attitude. It is not accumulating wealth. It is accumulating wealth to the detriment of others. For example:

Greed is when one is preoccupied with materialism. Consider Matthew 6:24-25
[24]"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.
[25] "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? [NIV]
Greed is when when one will not give generously. It is when one spends much more than he makes. But most of all, it is when one is willing to sacrifice his values and hurt others in order to "get ahead".

So what makes greed a deadly sin? A cynical person like myself might say that greed was labelled a deadly sin so that the church could charge more for absolution. But there is more to it than that.

Greed is all about short-sightedness. It is about pleasure at the expense of long-term benefit. When the only one you're out to please is yourself, who are you going to turn to when you need a hand? Your neighbor? The government? What about when you're standing at the judgement throne?

So many people have tossed aside the possibility of salvation because they knew that it meant they were going to have to give something up. It might be sex, drugs, booze... even Al Capone, according to Josh McDowell, once considered giving his life to Christ, but decided not to, because he knew he couldn't be a gangster and a Christian at the same time.

Capone made a living out of greed. He took his gains at the expense of others. What he failed to cnsider is that there is a judge who's keeping score- one with a heart for the honest poor. There aren't many things which anger God more than robbing or exploiting the poor. Remember Sodom? Why did God destroy Sodom? It wasn't merely for their sexual practices as many believe. At the top of the list of God's greivances against Sodom is their failure to care for the poor.

It behooves us all to keep on our guard against greed. Naturally, the best way to do this is to practice generosity.

The key to generosity is trust. The same God who punishes those who exploit the poor richly rewards those who care for their neighbor.

2 Corinthians 9:6-8
6 But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.
7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.
8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work
And now for this week's challenge:

For those of you who have not accepted Jesus as your saviour, realize that what he's offering you is the ultimate prize. Whatever alternative you may be enjoying now isn't worth giving up your soul.
Matthew 16:26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
For my fellow Christians, I challenge you to ask yourself whether there is anything you are withholding anything from God or your neighbor.

Pastor Oren Otter
July 22, 2006

Today's reading:
Matthew 6:19-21

19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.