“I Want More!”
“And he (Jesus) said to them, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” Then he told them a parable: The land of a rich man produced abundantly…And the things you have prepared, whose will they be? So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.” Luke 12:13-21
“No! That’s mine!” shouts (with a smirk) my daughter Madelyn. To which I say, “No! It’s mine!” and then we proceed to wrestle over the stuffed animal laughing and screaming. I know – probably not the best parenting, but it is fun, and I guess in a backwards way I am trying to teach that fighting over stuff can be silly.
The not so funny side of this is that too often, in families, at work, in church, all over the place, we adults continue to fight over “stuff” and too often “stuff” that isn’t ours. And it tears down relationships – our relationship with God and with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
From where does this idea of “mine” come? This idea of greed is something we all need to wrestle with. It is easy to identify greed when it is overt. But it is not always that easy to spot. See, we do ourselves a disservice if we only think of greed and think of people like Dr. Evil trying to extort one million…I mean one hundred billion dollars from the world. It is not as simple as that. There is greed in our hearts, prayers, thoughts, but also our homes, marriages, churches – everywhere!
Here is a definition of greed from the Revell Bible Dictionary, ““More than one needs” and “In essence, greed defines a person’s character. The person motivated by love for God will sacrifice possession to serve others. The person motivated by love for self will sacrifice others and God to possess things.” Think about this.
From where does greed come? Just from observation, a lot of times it comes from being deprived. Sometimes, the thinking can be, “I didn’t get or didn’t have what I wanted in the past; so now I have to get mine!” And there is no doubt that we all have deficits and didn’t or don’t get what we need in a lot of ways. But the person of authentic faith depends and waits on God to provide the simple, the “daily bread” all the way to what seems impossible.
“Covetousness (greed) is a self-destructive passion, a craving which is never satisfied, even when what has been craved is now possessed,” wrote John Stott – keywords being “self-destructive” and “never satisfied.” Doesn’t this ring true? Think of things you crave…what happens even when you get them? That’s right you want more!
And it goes on – we continue to pursue treasures for ourselves. We want the more expensive car, the bigger house, that “other” companion, the bigger office – we always want more than we have. Shameless cliché – “The ??? is greener on the other side.”
Jesus warns us in Luke 12, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions (15)!” In addition, He says, “The things you have, whose will they be? So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God (21).” “Rich toward God.”
And it is not just about possessions. Speaking specifically about churches – you’ve heard the stories of visitors being told, “You’re in my seat!” or ministry leaders saying, “This is my ministry – my way or no way!” or pastors and members thinking, “This church is for me and people like me only!” Wrong, wrong and wrong.
Guess what? It’s not ours – not our lives, not our possessions, not our ministries, not our churches – never was. We can’t say on one hand, “Thank you God for giving me life” and credit Him with that but then think and act as if it is “my stuff” and so on. All of this is not ours – greed is when we cross the line from being stewards (caretakers) to thinking we are owners. Greed must be so offensive to the actual owner and author of everything – God.
“When a man has arrived so far, that he seeks his consolation from no created thing, then at this point he begins truly to taste what God is; then, too, will he be well content with everything that happens,” wrote Thomas a Kempis. Let us look honestly at our lives and see how much pleasure and satisfaction comes from that which is created.
There is a central teaching in Reformed thinking from the Heidelberg Catechism and it goes like this, “That I am not my own, but belong, body and soul, in life and in death to my faithful savior Jesus Christ (Answer 1).” Now that is a covenant (promise)! No mention of other people, or things; just Christ. This promise, this covenant is the only thing that will last.
- What are some things you think of as yours? Are they really?
- What does it mean if they aren’t yours? What happens to your connection to them?
- What is the difference between an owner and a steward or caretaker?
- If you want something that is a need or would glorify God, how can you ask for it? (HINT – PRAY)
- Where do you see covenant being broken down in your life? In your church? What can you do?
- Do you belong, really belong to Jesus? If yes, great. If not, would you like to? Reach out to me and let’s talk.