S207P5 – The roots of falling short: avarice

Lk. 22:1-6

Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called Passover. And the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might kill Him, for they feared the people. Then Satan entered Judas, surnamed Iscariot, who was numbered among the twelve. So he went his way and conferred with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray Him to them. And they were glad, and agreed to give him money. So he promised and sought opportunity to betray Him to them in the absence of the multitude.

Let us paint an accurate picture of Judas Iscariot here.  Some might attribute his betrayal of Jesus Christ for a purse of gold to the hand of Satan.  We could interpret this passage as exculpating Judas because he was being controlled by the enemy.  The truth, however, is that Satan simply appealed to the sin within Judas through this act of temptation.  The response of Judas was to chase the gold and betray his teacher.  We learn from another scripture that greed and theft were not foreign to this disciple. [Luke 12:6]  We are not seeing the actions of a man who is being led around like a puppet to do things he does not want to do.  Judas simply gave in after being tempted to follow a sinful nature which he had cultivated over time.

Avarice is greed turned up a notch.  This is not to say that there is a sin of greed which is spiritually less significant or impactful than this.  The distinction here is one of how far one is willing to go to satisfy that greed.  Judas was willing to hand over the life of another just for some coins.  Avarice will take a person to the point of placing a monetary value even on human life.  The means to the greedy end have no limit.  Avarice makes an idol out of financial gain so that every other thing is lesser in importance, and anything can be sacrificed to pad the pocket.  It is a greed which devalues even human life to the point of willingly and coolly letting it be snuffed out without a second thought for that which carries only temporary value. 

The actions of Judas here are a culmination of years of giving himself over to the temptation of greed over and over.  The process of that repeated surrender to sin made him crave more and risk more just to try to satisfy that need.  He had formed a bond with greed which would guide him to be complicit to a murder which is still a topic of conversation today.  Even God’s only begotten Son and the Savior of Judas’s own people was not worth more than a bag of coins.  This is avarice at work in its dark glory when it is welcomed and given a place to grow.  Father, give us the discipline and wisdom to cut off the temptation of greed the moment it rears its ugly head, that avarice would have no chance to grab hold of us.