Sunday, July 22, 2007

Greed or Need?


“The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works.” –Michael Douglas as Gordon Gecko, “Wallstreet” (1987)

Is greed working for you? Here’s a test to help you answer that question. How much money do you have in the bank right now at your disposal? Write that figure down. Now, how much do you owe on credit cards, mortgages, and other debts? If your income is less than your outgo, greed isn’t working for you – you’re working for greed. And greed does not make a good employer! You get no time off, no rest, and no rewards. It’s only perk is that for a sheer moment in time, you have a sense of ownership of something big, something you desire, something that might make you happy. But alas, it’s a fleeting moment, and then the work begins anew.

Many of us have a credit card we’d love to pay off. Each month the bill arrives like a scarlet letter. We know the news will never be good. Yet we feel trapped in the cycle. We pay as much as we can, but each month the credits outweigh the debits. The circle spins around us. It’s as if we’re sitting on a tilt-a-whirl, and shifting from right to left, unable to control our circumstances.

The problem is not the credit card. The credit card can’t hurt you. Well, I suppose if the edges were sharpened, perhaps you might cut a finger, but that’s about all it could do to you. The real problem is greed. When greed takes over, we pull out that credit card and take hold of what is not ours! We didn’t really buy it. We borrowed it on credit! We stopped depending on God for our needs, and started fueling our greed. Debt makes it very easy to fund our greed, and neglect our dependence on God.

Jesus has told us as simply as He can how that we can have the things we need. In Matthew 6:33 Jesus says “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” What “things”? All the things we really need - clothing, food, shelter, and the breath of life.

But what if it’s not something you need, but something you want? What should a faithful follower of Christ do about those things? In Ephesians 4:17-24 we read the following passage:

“This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.

But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.”


It’s a matter of which man gets control – the old one, which is the flesh, or the new one, which is the Holy Spirit living in you. Which will you follow? If you choose to follow the old man, you will give yourself over to greediness. You’ll become alienated from God through your greed. You will grow corrupt, and become defiled by your own lusts. Greed will be your master, and you will be it’s slave.

But if you choose to let the Holy Spirit living in you reign over your desires, you will have the peace given to you by Jesus himself. You will end the worries over debts you cannot pay. You will stop the dizziness of the tilt-a-whirl of uncontrolled spending.

We all want things we cannot afford. The next time you’re faced with this battle of wills, ask God for it…and then wait. If it comes to you, it was His desire for you to have it, and you can praise Him for it! If it doesn’t, you must ask yourself, if the God of All Wisdom didn’t want you to have it enough to give it to you, do you really want to own it?

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