Monday, April 13, 2015

The Cure for Greed

Hello, my name is Melissa, and I am idolater.  It's been one day since I've been greedy.  Sometimes it seems like I don't know how to stop worshiping money.  The sad thing is that sometimes I don't even know what I'm doing.  Then an extra expense comes up, and I feel that little knot of anxiety.  I see an opportunity to give, and I pass it by because we just don't have it this week.  But we have it.  Extra giving just isn't in the budget this week, and I'm sure God understands that I need a grand in my emergency fund.  When I begin to question if we can afford what we have budgeted to give, I finally see the greed for what it is.  I've put God behind money.  Again.  I look back and see all the signs, and I regret it.  Then it creeps up on me again. How can I break out of this cycle?

Jesus's cure for greed begins in Luke 12.  At first, the parable sounds harsh.  A rich man has more possessions than he knows what to do with, so he builds bigger storehouses.  Calling him a fool, God takes his soul that very night.  Ouch!  Jesus is letting us know the consequences of runaway greed here. However, when he tells us how to defeat this sin, his tone seems to soften. 
For this reason I say to you, do not worry about your life, as to what you will eat; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds! And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life's span? If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters? (Luke 12:22-26)
Jesus here says the first step to defeating greed is to defeat worry.  I'm reminded of the story of the children in an orphanage during WWII.  The story goes that the children were so worried about how they would eat the next day that they were unable to sleep.  When an orphanage worker put bread into each child's hand, they were able to rest, knowing that their next meal had already been provided.  

Sisters, we should be more aware than those poor orphans of who takes care of us.  Having faith in our God means we don't need tangible evidence like a piece of bread or money in the bank to know that our God is going to provide our needs.  Jesus has already promised us. 

I once heard someone say that the best way to stop a bad habit it is to replace it with a good one.  If worry has been a habit in your life, it will be much easier to stop if you do something else instead. 
But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you. Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Luke 12:31-34)

Jesus gave us two things to replace our worry with.  One is to seek His kingdom.  I could write a whole 'nother blog post on what that means, but it could all be boiled down to two points: Love God and Love Others (also known as the greatest commands, Mark 12:29-31).  If we are busy loving the God who saved us and loving the people he sends into our lives, we won't have time to worry. 

The other thing Jesus told us to do to replace the worry that leads to greed is to give.  Go even so far as to sell your possessions (Luke 12:33).  Give to others in order to have treasure in heaven.  Give generously and without fear.  Give to the poor. Give to the people right in front of us who have needs.  Give to struggling churches. Give to the sinners.  Give to the saints.  Give to the hungry, the thirsty, the sick, and the prisoners (Matthew 25:31-46).  Give of your money.  Give of your time.  Give of your possessions.  
Just as it is impossible to serve both God and money, it is impossible to hold tight to your resources and give them away at the same time (Matthew 6:19-24).

Greed is a serious sin, one that I've fallen to over and over.  Like an addict going back to a drink or a dog going back to its vomit, I keep going back to this sin (Proverbs 26:11).  I'm so glad that God is a merciful God who will forgive me over and over.  I'm glad I studied this sin of the heart.  And I'm glad Jesus gave us a "program" to break the cycle.  And he's so awesome he doesn't need 12 steps.  Just three.  Stop worrying, seek the kingdom, give.


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