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You don’t have to look far to see the impact of greed in our society. The news is filled with tragic stories of people who grasp for more than needed.
The Little League parent who embezzled over twelve thousand dollars. The city councilman who stole hundreds of thousands from a local farmers’ market. The stunning revelation that earlier this year the California Employment Development Department (EDD) reported $11.4 billion of fraudulent unemployment claims. It can be overwhelming to think about how prevalent greed is in our society. As Christians we need to be aware of it so we can stand up against it.

The amount of greed in our country is staggering. Around the world, American greed has a reputation of being worse than what is present in other nations. I know this from traveling to more than 30 countries and hearing first hand from people about the perception of our society. I was reminded of this recently because of something that happened with the sports market in Europe. Two Sundays ago a group of the largest soccer teams in Europe, many of them owned by American companies, tried to create an elite soccer league that would compete with the established leagues, thus creating millions of dollars of guaranteed income for this small group of teams. They were trying to “Americanize” sports in Europe so that an obscene amount of money could be harvested for the owners of the teams.

I was pleasantly surprised to see an immediate backlash against this blatant greed. European sports pundits, players, coaches and an overwhelming amount of fans voiced their concern. They said the teams that were breaking away were ruining the soul of European “football.” Within days most of the break-away teams apologized for their mistake and many of the American business owners were forced off the boards of the established soccer league. Many European fans became even more dissatisfied with greedy owners who they perceive are ruining the sport. Many of the fans are left wondering, “How could the owners be so greedy? How could they try to steal the sport from the very fans who support it?”

The Bible answers that question quite easily. 1 Timothy 6:10 says, “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” Jeremiah 17:9 gives profound insight into the problem of greed when we read, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” Each human is born with a natural blindness towards their own greed. We see this in children when they reach for the largest piece of cake. We see it when a toddler learns the word “mine.” If a child is not shown his or her sin, then their greed will continue to grow and grow until they sin without shame or remorse.

As Christians we have to make sure that we recognize how greedy our society is. We can’t look to those around us to understand how much God wants us to have because the entire society encourages an unhealthy demand for more. We have to look to God’s Word for our standard of godliness and for the solution for how we are to live in a godless world.

Jesus made it clear that Christians are to be content. He wrote, “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.  But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:31-33).

Greed is one of the characteristics of the world we live in. As Christians we are to be different. We counter greed with contentment. The Christian will not complain about food if he knows God has promised his daily bread, and nothing more. The Christian won’t be greedy for expensive drinks if he knows God has promised water. How can we complain about not having expensive clothes if God has taught us to be content with basic necessities? How can we complain about not having the home we want or the car that someone else has when God may not want us to be looking for those things at all?

One of the first lessons God taught the Hebrew people when they came out of Egypt was to be content. He did this by giving them a grain-like substance called manna as they wandered in the wilderness. The fascinating thing about his provision of food was that it would only stay good for one day. If they gathered too much, it would go bad and they would have to wait for the next day to try again. Why did he do that? He knew their tendency towards greed. He knew they would try to take more than they needed, so he created a mechanism to teach them to only gather what was needed for the day.

This principle is a powerful correction to the greed that exists in the human heart. God wants his people to be content with what he provides for them each day. This is not easy. It is something that I struggle with often, but as Christians we need to make sure that we continue to struggle against greed. If we give in to it, we will become like the world, and that is a scary proposition indeed. Paul’s warning still rings true for the church today, “It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” (1 Tim. 6:10) May we be aware of the prevalent sins of our society so we can guard against them creeping into the church and into our lives as followers of Christ.

Pastor Tim is the teaching pastor at Grace Baptist Church Lemoore. You can read more of his articles at  www.christandcommonsense.com .


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