The Seven Deadly Sins: GREED
Text: Luke 12:13-21
Theme: Greed is not good. Christians must instead >seek first the kingdom of God= and thus become >rich toward God.=
In this parable, the rich man died before he could use all that he
had stored in his barns. He mistakenly believed that the wealth he had amassed was his alone. Jesus viewed his attitude as a form of greed.
When you concentrate your efforts on amassing wealth and material things and ignore God=s plan for your resources, you violate one of His key principles B stewardship of property and possessions. Jesus illustrates to His listeners that if you plan only for this life, you are heading for eternity empty-handed.
I. GREED IS BASIC TO HUMAN NATURE
1. notice the warning
Luke 12:15 ABeware, and be on your guard against every form
of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions@ NASB
a. Jesus was striking out against one of the most common
misconceptions B that life equals possessions
b. or that the more possessions a man or woman has, the
better life will be
2. now, I already know what some of you are thinking . . .
a. AAw, preacher, you may have hit a little too close to
home with those sermons on pride and envy, but I know for sure that I don=t have a problem with greed.@
3. are you sure you don=t have a problem with it?
a. OK, so let me ask you some diagnostic questions that
might help you evaluate where your are in regard to the morning=s topic
(1) you don=t have to raise your hands on these!
b. how many of you have ever bought or continue to
purchase Missouri lottery tickets?
1) if so, you might have a problem with greed
2) nawh, you probably just do it to insure our children=s
(a) the possibility of winning multi-millions of dollars
doesn=t even enter your mind
b. how many of you send back your Publisher=s Clearing
House entry form promising God that you=ll tithe on that $10 million dollars, no questions asked?
1) if so, you might have a problem with greed
c. how many of you have ever made a trip to one of those
lake-side developments because your letter said that you were >one of three lucky contestants= who could win a car?
1) if so, you might have a problem with greed
d. how many of you do not give a tithe of your income to
the church or Christian causes?
1) if not, you might have a problem with greed
A. JESUS= PARABLE ILLUSTRATES THAT MEN ARE
SELDOM CONTENT WITH WHAT THEY HAVE AND WANT CONSIDERABLY MORE THAN THEY DESERVE
ILLUS. The German philosopher, Immanuel Kant once said,
AGive a man everything he desires and yet at this very moment he will feel that everything is not everything.@
Luke 12:15 AThen he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your
guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."@ (NIV)
1. in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve knew true
a. God provided for their every need and they lived in
perfect harmony with their Creator
2. then pride, the first deadly sin, entered the picture and
Adam and Eve believed the devil=s lie that God was holding out on them and they became envious
a. they wanted more than they had and greed was born
3. Western literature abounds with fables and stories that
teach us to be on guard against greed
a. such as the story of The Fisherman and His Wife I read
to the children
4. the fisherman=s wife reveals a common problem of attitude
among many of America=s citizens today
a. she felt she was owed prosperity
B. ENTITLEMENT HAS REPLACED INDUSTRY AND GREED HAS
REPLACED BENEVOLENCE IN AMERICAN CULTURE
1. let me say, first of all, that achievement and
accomplishment are inbred desires
a. our God is a successful God and He has engineered us
1) the desire for material gain and the accumulation of
wealth is found in every culture on earth
b. the desire to be successful . . . the desire to achieve
reputation and prosperity are not in and of themselves wrong
1) money and wealth, while not evil in themselves, are
capable of corrupting the human heart and diverting our attention from what is most important B seeking the kingdom of God
c. what has changed in America is how many of our fellow
citizens achieve their wealth B it reveals a changing attitude about money and possessions
2. some of our citizens believe that they are entitled to
a. there was a time when industry B that is, good >ol
fashioned hard work, imagination, ingenuity, and fairness were the means to success and prosperity
1) it was not uncommon to work a life-time in order to
b. today, however, we are well into the third generation of
citizens who believe that they are entitled to financial support whether they work for it or not
1) many of our citizens are convinced that there is some
person, or some cooperation, or some government agency up the line that has an abundance of wealth that rightly ought to be shared
2) their attitude is, >I=m entitled to my fair share of the
American pie whether I=ve worked for it or not. It=s not fair that others should have so much.@
c. folks let me tell you what that attitude really is B it=s greed
3. some of our citizens believe that they can borrow their way
a. the good news this morning is that many people have
finally realized that money can't buy happiness
b. the bad news is that now they're trying credit cards
1) >charge it= has become part of the jargon of American
c. why work and save frugally for years or decades to
acquire the things your parents worked a life-time for when you can have it all today by saying >charge it?=
d. a goodly number of Americans are living substantially
above their means because they=ve bought into the philosophy >you can have it all now=
e. folks let me tell you something B that=s greed
4. some of our citizens believe that they can litigate their way into prosperity
a. spill hot coffee in your lap and you too can be a
candidate for Forbes=s magazine >richest people in America!=
b. or smoke cigarettes for twenty years and then sue the
tobacco company for addicting you even though for thirty years there has been a Surgeon General=s warning on each package
c. we are a sue-happy nation
ILLUS. I once heard a story about a grocer, who while
delivering orders in his station wagon, ran down and injured an elderly lady. The lady sued and was awarded an amount large enough to drive the man out of business. After many difficult years, he managed to accumulate enough money to open his business again. But after just a few months of business a gentleman slipped on the grocery store floor and injured his back. Once again the grocer was sued and once again he was forced out of business.
One peaceful Sunday afternoon as the grocer was sitting in his living room, his teenage son came running into the house saying, "Dad, Dad. Mom has been run over by a great big bus."
The grocer's eyes filled with tears, and in a voice trembling with emotion he cried, "Thank the Lord, my luck's changed at last."
5. some of our citizens believe that they can gamble their way
a. the proliferation of states and communities that are
actively encouraging their citizens to gamble is the most significant indicator that greed gripes the hearts of too many Americans
ILLUS. In the state of Mississippi last year 29.7 billion
dollars was spent on gambling. That was two billion dollars more than was spent on all other goods and services sold in the state. Across the country, politicians are resigning in scandal after scandal related to gambling. Government has become the ultimate bookie!
6. greed is destroying the soul of America
II. GREED IS PROGRESSIVE AND SUBTLE
1. few there are among us who would describe themselves as
Dickens described that >bah, humbug= of a man, Ebenezer Scrooge:
a. Dickens writes: A. . . he was a tight‑fisted hand at the
grind‑stone, . . . a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner!@
2. but if you=ve every read A Christmas Carol you=ll remember
that Scrooge wasn=t always the covetous old sinner he had become
a. ever so slowly did the passion for wealth infiltrate
Ebenezer=s life until it blinded him to all other cares
b. the name Scrooge is now synonymous with greed and
c. greed is a trap that ensnares many believers, just as it
3. Dickens portrays a man whose life=s aim is progressively
altered by greed
A. THE GRADUAL NATURE OF GREED
1. the sin of greed may begin innocently enough
a. you may think that because God has blessed you, you
are entitled to use your financial and spiritual gifts as you choose
b. slowly, you fall victim to Satan=s snare of desire for more
2. there are a number of words in both Old and New
Testaments which we translate as greed
a. they refer to the gradually progressive nature of greed
3. the first of these words is found in Col. 3:5: APut to death,
therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed,A
a. the word greed here refers to a strong desire to acquire
more and more material possessions or to possess more things than other people have, all irrespective of need
b. it=s a greed that buys something on sale just because it
is on sale whether you need it or not, because you think that some day you might need it
4. the second of the words which we translate as greed is
found in 1 Timothy ADeacons, likewise, are to be men worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain.@
a. the phrase pursuing dishonest gain is literally shamefully
b. do you see the progression?
1) first, there is a strong desire to have that comes from
an inward love of wealth and things that we suppress and keep secret
2) if those inward desires are allowed to blossom B or
worse yet, cultivated B greed becomes open and obvious and one becomes shameless in his or her desire for more and more
Isaiah 56:11 They are like hungry dogs that are never
satisfied. They are like shepherds who don=t know what they are doing. They all have gone their own way; all they want to do is satisfy themselves.@ NCV
ILLUS. My dog Ahnyx, is a greedy little chow-hound.
When it comes to food, he never has enough. I can come home, open the garage door, come into the house, get a drink of water, and use the bath room and walk back into the kitchen without my dog every stirring. But the moment I rustle a bag in the kitchen, he shows up at my side wanting a treat, or patiently waiting for something to fall on the floor. He=s like a horse, I think he=d founder if I left the cover off of his food container. He=s a greedy little pig.
3) you say, ABut Bro. Dave. He=s a dog, and I=m a
person. I don=t behave like that!@
ILLUS. Someone once asked John D. Rockefeller the
question, AHow many millions does it take to satisfy a man?@ His candid answer accurately revealed the heart of man. AHow many millions does it take to satisfy a man?@ he mused. AThe next one.@
c. folks, outside of the grace of God and our desire to live a
life pleasing to Him, we=re all greedy little pigs!
5. the third of the words we translate greedy is found in Luke
11:39: AAnd the Lord said unto him, Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness.@
a. the word ravening literally means violent greed
b. it=s meaning is obvious . . . it refers to a desire to gain
things, even by violent means, if necessary
ILLUS. Right now, there is a popular computer game that
a lot of kids and teens are playing. It=s called, In Pursuit of Greed. It=s a 3-D action game set in the distant future. The premise of the game is that the player is a hunter enticed with the prospects of fame and fortune offered by a group of elite criminals. Players participate in games of theft and destruction waged on battlefields of innocent victims.
c. just what we need B a game that teaches our kids to
violently pursue greed
ILLUS. Did you know that in some urban High Schools
administrators have banned major league athletic jackets, and even certain brands of tennis shoes and blue jeans because too many teenagers are getting beat up or even shot because another student literally wants the cloths off another kid=s back?
6. greed is progressive
a. no one starts out as an Ebenezer Scrooge, but the
potential for becoming one lies just beneath the surface in each of us
B. GREED HAS SUBTLETY INFILTRATED THE CHURCH AND
MASQUERADES AS PIOUSNESS
ILLUS. Adrian Rogers tells a story of Satan's attack on Christians.
First, Satan shot a poisonous dart at his heel; but the Christian was unharmed, because his feet were shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. Next, Satan shot an arrow at his loins, but the Christian repelled this easily because his loins were girt about with truth. Unsuccessfully, the devil tried a shot at the breast. But there was the breastplate of righteousness. The Christian knocked away another dart with his shield, and the helmet of salvation repelled another arrow, but the devil was not defeated. He slipped around behind the Christian and shot him in the pocketbook and killed him dead.
1. the world the flesh and the devil are very subtle in their
a. the desire to have, and the love of money has slyly
entered the body of Christ and become spiritually fashionable
b. many have vindicated its presence by cloaking it in the
disguise of faith, but it is really nothing more than an excuse for greed
3. some call it the health and wealth gospel while others call it
name it and claim it theology
a. it preaches that if you can just, somehow, get God on
your side, that you can have everything you want
b. it tells believers that if we want something, all we need
do is claim it >in Jesus= name (of course) and that somehow obligates God to give it to us
c. it teaches that God rewards faith with pennies, and
dimes, and nickels B and better yet B homes and cars and stereo equipment
d. these are often the very same people who get so upset
when the preacher asks for some of it back!
ILLUS. I love the story of the pastor who had really gotten
into his sermon one Sunday morning. He was preaching on the potential of the church and he got excited. Sensing his excitement, the congregation began enthusiastically and verbally responding to him.
The pastor told them, "With God's help we can see the day when this church will go from crawling to walking." And the people responded, "Let the church walk, Pastor, let the church walk." He continued, "And when the church begins to walk, next the church can begin to run." And the people shouted, "Let the church run, Pastor, let the church run!" The pastor continued, "And finally the church can move from running to flying. Oh, the church can fly! ALet the church fly, Pastor, let the church fly!@ ABut of course, for the church to fly that's going to take lots of money!" The congregation grew suddenly quiet, and from the back, someone mumbled, "Let the church walk, Pastor, let the church walk."
4. the church has bought a bill of goods that the devil has
a. greed has subtlety infiltrated the church and it
masquerades as piousness
III. GREED IS NOT GOOD, BUT GIVING IS
ILLUS. Some years ago, Michael Douglas stared in a movie
entitled Wall Street. In it he played an executive of a large Wall Street firm who would stop at nothing in his drive to accumulate more money and power. At one point in the film, Douglas= character is addressing a class of young, would-be brokers who are hanging on his every word. He tells these eager young men and women, AGreed is good!@
1. no it is not!
2. greed is the very opposite attitude Jesus encouraged his
followers to develop
a. what is that attitude?
b. faith in God to provide for His people
Luke 12:22‑24; 27-30 AThen Jesus said to his disciples:
"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! . . . (27‑30) "Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them.@
3. greed says, AI don=t trust God to provide me all the things I
need or want, so I=ll just get them myself.@
a. greed is one of the seven deadly sins because it is, at
b. the commandment says, Thou shalt have no other gods
c. greed attempts to replace God with things money can
4. Jesus taught B yea he demanded B his followers to be
a. greed can overpower nearly all elements of spiritual
b. that=s why giving is so important
ILLUS. Tony Compolo, Sociology Professor at Eastern
Baptist College and a popular speaker, has written: AThere is one primary way to overcome greed, and that is to discover the joy that comes from self‑giving. The nature of sin is that it blinds us to the truth that we have been designed in the image of a giving God (John 3:16), and that we therefore fulfill the purpose of our Creator by giving away what we are and have to others. When we are called upon to sacrifice, it is not only that others might benefit from our self‑giving, but that we ourselves might know the joy that God wills for us to have.@
c. our giving should not be like an overflow valve on our
wealth that gives only what we think is excess
d. rather, our giving should be like a loosened drain plug
ILLUS. One of the more refreshing stories to come out of
the sports world in recent years is that of Kurt Warner. In a day of multi-million dollar contracts in big-league sports, Warner=s story has been refreshing to me.
Warner, as most of you know, is quarterback for the St. Louis Rams. Hired as the team=s backup quarterback, his salary was the minimal amount allowed by NFL rules B $250,000. This is in a league were the average player=s salary is $2 million and the average quarterback=s salary is $3.5 million. In a pre-season game the Ram=s starting quarterback B Trent Green B went down with a season-ending injury. In steps Kurt Warner, and the rest, as they say, is history. He had a phenomenal season and was voted the league MVP as well as the Super Bowl MVP. When the Rams tried to re-negotiate his salary at mid-season B actually wanting to pay him more B Warner told them that he had signed a contract that paid him $250,000. Anything they paid him above what he had signed for would be given to charity!
5. in a day when plenty of people are willing to give God the
credit for their success, but where few are willing to give Him cash, Warner stands out as an example for all of us
6. so what is the Christian response to this message?
IV. CHRISTIANS MUST LEARN TO BE CONTENT
1 Timothy 6:6 ABut godliness with contentment is great gain.@
1. one of the greatest of Christian virtues we can develop is
that of satisfaction with what we have
a. the Apostle Paul is our great example in learning how to
find satisfaction in life
b. to the believers in a town called Philippi, he wrote: A. . . I
have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.@ Philippians 4:11‑13
c. Paul wrote that statement from a Roman prison
2. in his parable, Jesus refers to those who Astore up things
for himself but is not rich toward God."
ILLUS. William Randolph Hearst, was a newspaper publisher
of the early part of this century. He was exceedingly wealthy. He was also a patron of art and spent a great deal of money collecting art treasures for his collection.
The story is told that one day he saw a picture of a piece of artwork that he felt he must absolutely own, so he sent his agent abroad to find it.
After months of searching, the agent reported that he had found the treasured object and that it was close to home. Where was it? In Hearst's warehouse, with many other treasures he owned that were still in their crates.
Hearst had been searching for a treasure he already owned! Such is the power of wealth that it blinds us to the treasures we already have and focuses us on obtaining more, without appreciating what we have.
3. there is something to be said for true contentment
a. the Scriptures tell us that, when accompanied with
Godliness, contentment is a great gain
Are you content with what you have, or is greed destroying your soul? The most serious greed a man suffers from is the greed of keeping yourself for yourself instead of surrendering ourselves to a God who wants to give you the contentment that comes from knowing that heaven is your home and salvation your true treasure.