Greed: To Grasp or Give Away
‘For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.’
The focal point of our faith and of most sanctuaries is the Cross. That emblem of God’s self-giving reminds us that freedom hinges on offering ourselves to others, to purposes that defy self-preservation. The servant is not greater than his Master. Jesus said it like this: the hard seed either opens or remains alone (JN 12:24). Fruitfulness requires surrender to the Sovereign will; the greedy self insists on gathering and defending its own securities. Greed gilds the husk of our humanity and renders us sterile.
We are naturally greedy. By that I mean we gravitate to securities that we can get our hands on. Fear drives our greed, as does envy: we look and long for what might give us the most power and so assuage the threat of extinction or at least insignificance.
I live in a Christian ghetto of sorts where few have much money and most are fairly generous with it. No Scrooges among us–wealthy misers who share only their misery. No, our greed is more subtle; it can appear justified, humane, and refined. But it’s the same old idolatry, the creature grasping after created things to give him the security only God can give. Take heed: ‘No greedy person—such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and God.’
Maybe we grasp after middle-class protections: retirement plans and insurance, the house on the lake for grandparents and kids, savings that soothe us to sleep. One friend confessed to me his obsessing over IRAs (I feared his association with political terrorists). We can squander much time and energy stockpiling on earth and lose the Kingdom—what it means freely to say ‘yes’ to God until we go or He comes. We must discern when we are padding our own kingdoms or availing ourselves to His.
Maybe it’s ‘quality-of-life’ stuff, good ol’ American consumerism that masks as wisdom or justice. For example, I know many seasoned Christians who have been exposed to so many church models they no longer settle with one. So they remain alone, high-minded and unchecked, disgruntled consumers that hurt the Church rather than help her. Or the spouse that after a decade or so claims to deserve more than the limited, frustrating person (s)he married. I recently sat with a couple who tearfully conveyed their mutual frustration and yet who are beginning to see Jesus’ purposes in the gaps. Do gaps in your church life and marriage inspire self-giving or greed? Jesus grants us the Cross amid idolatrous, consumer-driven options.
We have all been thunderstruck by the effective greed of gay activists. Their ploy? Take a common disorder and claim to resolve it by making it a boast, a right, even the basis for a marriage. But reframing a problem does not solve it. From every angle, homosexual practice is still delusional; it frustrates the very desire it claims to satisfy. Sex is for life, not to fuse misbegotten friendships. The ‘gay’ emperor is still naked and impotent. The greedy seed remains alone.
We overcome greed by giving our lives away to Jesus. Generous self-giving is the sole antidote to greed. That’s why we tithe; that’s why we thank God for hardship and unmet needs and frustrating people; that’s why we keep trying to love our fellow humanity. Ragged yet inspired, we offer our lives to Him and ask Him to multiply our gifts to others. Overtime He becomes our sight and our security. We find ourselves by looking straight at Him. He is God and He is enough.