He then told them, “Watch out and be on guard against all greed, because one’s life is not in the abundance of his possessions.” (Luke 12:15, CSB)
One of my favorite summertime treats is a Slurpee, that flavored slushy drink so cold it gives brain freeze. When the temperature sizzles, it’s a great way to cool down. They are usually found in the fountain drink area of convenience stores and gas stations.
You probably know the routine—select your cup size, snap on a domed lid, and fill your cup. And that’s where my greed takes over—the game of how much can I pour in before it overflows. I want to get every refreshing, frozen drop possible, but I never seem to master the technique. My cup overflows with the sweet, sticky mess. I mop up as best I can with wads of paper napkins, but invariably the sticky transfers itself from the outside of the cup onto my hands and on the car cup holder.
Greed extends to more than how much Slurpee can fit into a cup. The daily news tells us that greed makes a sticky mess in the corporate world. But it’s not just the high and mighty who get greedy. Even the paycheck-to-paycheck person can be consumed by it. The Bible uses the word covetousness; we might use the word materialism. It’s when we become obsessed with the desire to possess more.
Ecclesiastes 5:10 says, “He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase.” When we focus on money and “things,” no matter how much we have, it is never enough. I once taught a class on money to young teens. One of the resources I used had a statement that went something like this: “Enough is always enough, but more than enough is never enough.” Think that through for a moment, and you will realize its truth.
My niece, then two years old, became extremely upset when friends came to dinner and their two little girls began playing with her toys. Two-year-olds are notorious at “it’s mine!” She was no exception. Finally, wailing in distress, she gathered every toy she could clutch to her little body and came running to Mom. Only one word broke from her lips. “MINE!” It’s not just two-year-olds that clutch things possessively. Most of us have probably done the same at some point in life, if not literally then figuratively.
Colossians 3:5 lists a number of things we must purge from our lives. It says, “Therefore, put to death what belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and greed, which is idolatry” (CSB). Did you notice it calls greed idolatry? In other words, money and material possessions become our god.
Our culture bases our value as a person upon what we possess. It says, “The one who dies with the most toys wins.” This philosophy runs counter to Hebrews 13:5 which admonishes us to “be content with such things as ye have.” Paul asserts that “godliness with contentment is great gain” (I Timothy 6:6). True worth comes from our relationship with God.
The next time I treat myself to a Slurpee, I hope I remember Proverbs 30:8-9.
“Give me neither poverty nor wealth; feed me with the food I need. Otherwise, I might have too much and deny you, saying, ‘Who is the LORD?’ or I might have nothing and steal, profaning the name of my God” (CSV).
Never let me pour so many material things into my cup of life that I forget God.