Write This Down: Greed

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“Write This Down…” provides a restatement of selected points or observations from various teaching venues at which Pastor Matthew speaks. The following material is from Pastor Matthew’s sermon entitled, “Greed,” part of the series called “The Seven Deadly Sins,” the weekend of October 10, 2010 at Bethel Church:

Greed is that unyielding pursuit of status and stuff, no matter the cost, because of the fear of future lack and/or losing face.

1 Samuel 8 helps us understand the motivation behind greed. When the nation of Israel found the sons of Samuel to be unworthy judges and rulers, they became very anxious about their future. Furthermore, Samuel himself was aged, and this led to question marks about security. “Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways,” they said (1 Samuel 8:5). “Now appoint for us a king to judge us.” Insecurity about the future, and the deeply felt need to ensure that wants are fulfilled and worries mitigated, prompts the people to plead for a king.

Another motivation is the desire to not lose face. The people plead for a king “that we also may be like all the nations” (1 Samuel 8:20). They do not want to look like they are behind, that they are losing, that they are somehow insufficient relative to everyone else. If the first motivator is insecurity, this one is about image.

And sadly all of this is pursued no matter the cost. Samuel the Prophet goes to some length in 1 Samuel 8:10-18 to explain to the people the ways in which their desire, their greed,will cost them. Greed is costly, and yet the people do not care, refusing to hear Samuel’s words (1 Samuel 8:19).

In the end, the unyielding thirst for status and stuff, no matter the cost, driven by the fear of losing faith and the fear of future lack, is an outright rejection of God. This pursuit is rooted in the belief that God is not sufficient, cannot be trusted, and does not really care about us.

To extract oneself from this terrible sin, one must be a channel of mercy. Mercy has been granted time and again to us, and we should let it flow into us and then out. It was in a context of lending generously that Jesus declared, “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36).

We must also live our lives with a Kingdom-orientation, not a self-orientation (cp. Matthew 6:33).

We can ask the Lord God for help being content.

We must repent if the sin of greed is in our lives.

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