I was humored and saddened recently when I heard the NFL players complaining about their salaries. Their basic complaint seemed to be that NBA players were getting higher salaries and fatter contracts; they felt it wasn’t fair. They talked about striking when their current deal with the team owners ends – which is still a few years away.
I was humored because it’s hard to listen seriously to multi-millionaires complaining they do not get paid enough. I was saddened because it reminded me again of the insidious power of greed.
So how do people become greedy? How do you and I become greedy? There are three common misconceptions about possessions. One such misconception is that having more will make me happier. “If only I had more money, a bigger car, more house, more clothes…” Think about it – the more you own, the more space, repairs and maintenance will be needed; there will be more requests from others for money and donations necessitating still more time and money. Many adults today have more than their parents ever had yet are enjoying it less and are deeper in debt. They live on a treadmill trying to keep up and get ahead. It’s like trying to fill the Grand Canyon with marbles – it will never happen. There just aren’t enough marbles. Having more will not make us happier. Rather, the reality is that it’s like drinking salt water when you’re thirsty – the more you drink the thirstier you will become.
No wonder the wise preacher of Ecclesiastes wrote: “Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless. As goods increase, so do those who consume them. And what benefit are they to the owner except to feast his eyes on them?” (Ecclesiastes 5:10-11). Or as the New Living Translation puts it: “Those who love money will never have enough. How absurd to think that wealth brings true happiness! The more you have, the more people come to help you spend it. So what is the advantage of wealth-except perhaps to watch it run through your fingers?”
A second misconception is that having more will increase my worth. Yet in reality, greed is buying things with money we do not have to impress people we do not know or like. Why? Because we tend to think our net-worth is the same as our self-worth.
That’s why Jesus said: “…a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15). You are not what you own! You are what – or who – owns you! Who or what owns you? Can you say with conviction that you are not your own but belong, body and soul, to your faithful Savior Jesus Christ? There’s your net worth.
The third misconception is having more will give me more security. Of course, that security disappears as soon as the stock market turns down and insurance rates go up! Solomon, in Proverbs, wrote: “Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf” (11:28).
So how do we lessen our greed? One of the best cures for greed is to develop a giving lifestyle. In 2nd Chronicles 31:2-10 we are told that King Hezekiah “…ordered the people living in Jerusalem to give the portion due the priests and Levites so they could devote themselves to the Law of the LORD. As soon as the order went out, the Israelites generously gave the first fruits of their grain, new wine, oil and honey and all that the fields produced. They brought a great amount, a tithe of everything…Since the people began to bring their contributions to the temple of the LORD, we have had enough to eat and plenty to spare, because the LORD has blessed his people, and this great amount is left over.” Jesus said: “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?… Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Lk. 9:25 & 12: 33-34).
These thoughts come from chapter 5 of 7 Habits of Highly Healthy People (Antidotes for the 7 Deadly Sins) by Pastor Curry. For more information go to https://www.pastorcurry.com/books/ . Or contact Pastor Curry for discounted copies of the book.