May 13, 2011 by Chris French
This is from Andy Stanley’s book, It Came From Within and our series of lessons on Wednesday night by the same name.
Greed says, “I owe me”. Everything that comes my way and everything that could possibly come my way should be mine. I’ve worked hard and I should be able to enjoy the “fruits of my labor”. You’ve forgotten something though…the things that you’ve worked for aren’t yours. They’re the Lord’s and He’s letting you use them so you can do great things for Him. Are you meeting His purpose for you having those things or are you enjoying them for yourself?
We’ve turned greed into a virtue. Instead of saying, “I’m greedy”, we say, “I’m a saver” or “I’m making my financial future secure”. We’re putting an awful pretty finish on the tomb of greed (Matthew 23.27). I’m not saying you shouldn’t provide for your family. You should. In fact it’s a sin if you don’t (II Thessalonians 3.6-12). I’m saying that you’re watching over God’s money for Him for a little while. What are you doing with it? It doesn’t seem very close to the heart of God for me to stock pile nice things for myself while others among His children are starving. Again, I’m not saying you need to sell everything you have and give to the needy, although that was the stipulation Jesus put to one who wanted to be His disciple (Luke 18.18-23). More on this later. I’m asking myself and you to think about what Jesus did with His assets while He was here. He wasn’t about “saving” money or “making His financial future secure”. Before you sell your house and give all your clothes to Goodwill let me give you a way to think of greed that helps me out. I can tell that I’m greedy by whether I attach strings to the money or assets I give people. “I’ll give you this, but I expect interest to be paid on it.” “I’ll give you this, but I will never forget about it and I’ll hold it against you.” “I’ll give you this, but you’ll me owe”. Maybe you don’t say those things, but if you think them when you give to someone you might want to check the beast in the mirror.
Let’s talk about some reasons we do have extra money. Many people say that they accumulate extra money so their kids won’t have it like they did. Let’s look at some children who inherited money so they wouldn’t have to have it like their parents did. Paris Hilton shows up at the top of the list. Enough said? Giving money to kids ruins them. They haven’t worked for it and they don’t appreciate it. Giving your kids money is probably the worst thing you could do to them!
Maybe you’ve got extra money so you don’t have to worry about money? Jesus doesn’t want us to worry about money or assets (Matthew 6.25). Keep on reading Jesus’ words. Don’t cut Him off. In Matthew 6.33 He says, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” We shouldn’t rely on money to give us peace. That’s God’s job! We seek His kingdom and righteousness and the money will work itself out. We don’t have extra money so we don’t have to worry about it. In fact the more money you do have the more you worry about it. Remember Scrooge McDuck?
So we don’t have extra money to raise our standard of living. We’ve already talked about that. It’s far from the heart of God, but it also doesn’t match up to the way we live. Credit Card debt in America is outrageous! The average American owes $8,400 to credit companies alone! (Click here for some fun facts about credit cards). We’re spending more than we make! We certainly don’t have extra money so we can live life like that!
Maybe you have extra money so you can retire early? That was the farmer’s idea in Luke 12.13-21. This guy had forgotten that his free time was an asset God expected him to use. It’s great if you get to retire early, but that free time (and money) needs to be used for God’s kingdom.
Maybe you’ve got extra money so you can give it away? Wow, now there’s a revolutionary idea! I think that’s the answer we’ve been looking for! We get this concept with little things. When you were little and you had taken 2 cookies and your brother didn’t have any your mother would have told you to split your two cookies with him. Share! We learn it in kindergarten, but forget it about age 10!
You want the solution to greed? You see it in yourself and want it gone? Here’s what you do: practice radical generosity. Find a cause you believe in and can get your hands dirty with. Think about what would be a ridiculous amount to give that charity…and give it! Use your head. Maybe you don’t have a lot of money, but you can think up a way to get that worthy charity some revenue. Send it to the charity, then go there and work your tail off in support of it. There are several good charities out there. Here are the qualifications for a charity you should support. It needs to be making a difference in God’s kingdom (make it a church of Christ charity), you need to be able to go to the source where people need the help and help them, and you need to find a way to start practicing radical generosity in your life. This charity will help you get started. It’ll change you! For Kelly and I this has been the trip to El Salvador. We want you to come with us. Maybe that’s your charity too. Come talk to me if you need my help finding a charity. We may even be able to make your own.