S20P6 – The obstacles to faith: greed
1 Tim. 6:17-18
Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.
I was watching a classic TV show, and one of the characters was described by another character as being a man who lusts after everything but loves nothing. I thought this was a rather unfortunate way to be described. I also thought that it likely describes many people we know. There is a parallel between lust and greed in that they both seek to take instead of seeking to give. This is based on a mentality of scarcity in which one thinks that to have as much as possible provides some type of security. This mentality causes us to strive for more than what we need in order to chase an illusion of security, even if it means that others must have less than what they need. The illusion is that the material and temporal things we can attain in this world provide any security at all.
Although greed obviously stands against generosity, it also stands against two other core Christian principles. These principles are love and trust. Generosity looks to care for others; this is love. Sometimes we are called to be generous when we ourselves feel that we have lack; this is trust. When we exercise greed, we focus on ourselves not only receiving provision but supplying it. We think that what we are able to accumulate in our own power and strength will be what sustains us in life. We take our provision into our own hands as if those were the most reliable hands for the job. But when we live generously, our goal is to make sure that our efforts sustain others while trusting God to sustain us. After all, the teachings of Jesus Christ encourage us to put others first. In the world’s mind, one who does so loses out. In the Spirit’s mind, when we do this according to the instruction of Christ and for his purposes, we gain. In fact, the very next verse after today’s scripture speaks of the eternal riches awaiting those who practice generosity in the here and now.
The security that we think we achieve when we hoard our assets and live to build our earthly storehouses is merely an illusion. It robs us of an opportunity to trust God for our provision, and it robs us of the blessing of being able to sew into other people’s lives and enrich them. The spiritual result of greed is a lack of love and trust. If we have faith that God will sustain us, and if we desire to love our fellow man as Jesus loves us, then generosity will be of no question and no issue. It will flow from us. Father, teach us to be generous to others, to have hearts that desire to give instead of receive, and build up our trust in You so that we will be able to walk this out faithfully and knowing that You always provide.