One can be saved from the sin of greed

It is difficult to guard against that which promises to serve one’s own interests. Left unchecked, greed can be blinding because it comes with an exhilarating conquest of securing one’s own needs and wants. Greed can blind an unbeliever; it can also blind a believer. One may think that since I do not have a lot of money and wealth, I should be excused from this talk on greed. Wait a minute and be reminded that it is possible for one to be poor and still be greedy in actions and motivations.

We can win over greed because the scriptures have provided a way out for us. We also know (in the case of believers) that we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, by whose power we are called to live victoriously over sin. The following admonitions have been gleaned from the scriptures. They may not be the only ones throughout the entire Bible, but could be a very important addition to one’s weaponry for fighting and overcoming greed.

Set priorities right: In Matthew 6:33, Jesus taught that a sound spiritual relationship with God should be one’s primary concern. “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Finding God’s Kingdom and all its righteousness is of a far greater value compared to the acquisition of material things. In context, Jesus emphasized that being overly concerned about material needs can cause one to lose focus of that which really matters (God’s Kingdom and its righteousness). In Matthew 6:32b, Jesus offered a very comforting thought for our day to day life, he said, “For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.” Since the omniscient God knows our needs even more than we do, we should focus on him more than anything.

Be thankful and grateful in prayer: Gratitude and thankfulness are desirable virtues for God’s people. They are also commendable guards against greed. In 1Thessaloninians 5:18, Paul urges that “in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” This means that lives of God’s people should be marked by a continual thankfulness. To paraphrase what I once heard, “Instead of complaining and pressing ourselves about what we do not have, we can choose to focus on what we have and thank God for it.” While greed often has in sight “self-credit” and “self-pleasure”, thankfulness recognizes God as the source and end of all things. Regardless of the circumstances, we are to thank God for who He is: good, gracious, merciful, etc. (Ps.136:1, Ps. 7:17). We must also thank God for all his deeds and provisions (Ps. 9:1, Eph. 5:20, Col. 1:12). 2Corinthians 4:15 teaches that an overflow of thanksgiving glorifies God.

Be Content: In his first letter to Timothy, Paul mentions contentment as one of the incredible guards against greed. In 1Timothy 6:6 he says that “godliness with contentment is great gain”. Paul said this to urge Timothy to distance himself from those who sought to greedily accumulate wealth and money. In trying to do so, Paul said, these people “plunged themselves with many sorrows.” Contentment means resting in God and His provisions: Taking God as a greatest reward, and being satisfied with things as He provides knowing and trusting that He cares. Hard as it is to be content, Paul encourages that it is something adoptable and doable. In Philippians 4:11-13, he challenges that we can learn to rely on God’s sustenance no matter our circumstance. Sometimes, and in His own will and purpose, God blesses us beyond what we need. When He chooses to, we must not focus on pursuing the gift(s) more than the giver. When He chooses not to, we can be comforted by the truth that He knows our needs and He intends the best for us. For clarity sake, contentment should not mean that we stop investing in our God-given abilities and talents. The writer to the Hebrews provides a helpful summary; “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Heb. 13:5.

Have right motives: Much (if not all) of what we do stems out of our motives. Scriptures encourage us to have right motivations in all we do. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit,” (Phil. 2:3a). We are to evaluate our motives as we pray, work, plan, relate, serve, and even in our acquisition of material things. While it is possible for us to hide our motives before our fellow human beings, we cannot hide them before God. Proverbs 16:2 declares that “All a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the LORD.” We are also reminded from James 4:3 that God opposes wrong motives even in our prayers. Right motives have the ultimate goal of serving and glorifying God (Eph. 6:6-8, Col. 3:23-24, 1Thess. 2:4). God is interested in our motives; He will judge them; approving genuine ones and disapproving wrong ones (1 Cor. 4:5).

Be a good steward: In his prayer in1Chronicles 29:10-20, David declares that all things, including wealth and riches belong to God. As he continued to pray, he acknowledged that since all things belong to God, whatever we have has only been entrusted to us as stewards. Realizing that we are only stewards gives us an understanding that we are responsible to God for our conduct toward possessions. In 1Timothy 6:17-18, Paul agrees that it is God who blesses us with all things for our enjoyment (v.17). At the same time, he urges that it is unwise to get distracted and lost in the blessings. Therefore, we must provide good stewardship by using these blessings in ways that glorify God – the giver. In verse 18, Paul shows that one way to achieve this is to have a generous attitude instead of a self-centered one. We can choose an attitude which says “since God has blessed me, I will willingly share with others in need.” This ultimately glorifies God through us.

Repent and/ Confess: Just like with other sins,Jesus can deliver anyone who repents from the sin of greed. If one considers their life to be complete because of the pleasures that come with wealth and other worldly privileges, be reminded from Matthew 6:33 that there is more to life than material things. If one thinks that they are irreconcilable to God because they were dragged too far by greed, or because of the pain that came with it, consider Jesus’ invitation in Luke 19:10: “for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” We can be encouraged by the story of Zacchaeus (Lk19:1-10): A tax collector lost in greed, found salvation in Jesus Christ.

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