Deadly . . . Greed and Envy!

7 Deadly Sins
Greed and Envy
March 11, 2018

The 2015 American Freshman Survey asked thousands of incoming students about their goals and aspirations. 81.9 % checked “becoming very well off financially” as an “essential” or “very important” life objective. That’s an astounding percentage. But it’s not uncommon. Most people believe if they had more money, they would be happier and more content. Their expectation was they would graduate college earing the minimum wage in their eyes, which was $75,000.

One of the researchers, Jonathan Haidt wrote ~ “Wealth itself has only a small direct effect on happiness because it so effectively speeds up the hedonic treadmill. As the level of wealth has doubled or tripled in the last 50 years, the levels of happiness and satisfaction with life has not changed, and depression has become more common.”*

Isn’t that the truth?! The more we make the more we spend, the more we spend, the more we believe we need to make . . . and the cycle goes on and on and on. It never ends until we end it! Too many people, young and middle aged believe money is necessary for happiness. I really believe most people as they age, come to the realization, it’s not about the money. But sometimes, it’s too late.

Well, today, we’re tackling 2 of the 7 deadly sins! That means, since you lost an hour of sleep last night, I will have to go twice as long . . . right?! No, actually, I should go 2x shorter, since you’re sleepier . . . right?! Not!

Okay, we’re looking at a combination of greed and envy. I believe there’s a link between the two. We’re going to start with greed and work our way into envy. The apostle Paul was giving final instructions to Timothy and he wrote these words ~

6 But godliness with contentment is great gain,

7 for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world.

8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.

9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.

10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils.  It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. – 1 Timothy 6:6-10

Paul isn’t telling us, nor did Jesus ever tell us money is bad. We never hear that we should not be wealthy. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were tremendously wealthy. David was a wealthy King. He put millions of dollars aside to build the Temple.

And his son, Solomon was even wealthier. 1 Kings 10:23 tells us “King Solomon was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth.”

None of these people were condemned because they were wealthy. Why? Because they were rich toward God. Even with their wealth, they put more trust in God than they did in their fortunes and possessions. People were never condemned for being wealthy.

Jesus condemned them for being greedy. Greed is biblically defined this way ~
covetousness, avarice, the desire for more things, lusting for a greater number of temporal things that go beyond what God determines is eternally best (beyond His preferred-will)

The dictionary defines greed as — an excessive or rapacious desire, especially for wealth or possessions.

Greed is a never ending desire and compulsion to get more of anything you think will make you content. It’s the belief if I get more, I will be safe, secure and happy.

Understand this, you don’t need to be wealthy to be greedy. Greed is about wanting more, but wanting more in a way that you believe will satisfy you, and make life better.

That means – if I have to cheat a little, or lie a little, or fudge a little to get more money… I’ll do it. Because it’s all about ME supplying for MY needs.

That’s why so many families go to war about their inheritance. You can read stories in disbelief about people who fought and ultimately were no longer a family because of fights over an inheritance.

In Luke 12, Jesus shares a story about a guy who’s complaining about his inheritance, and Jesus tells a story about a another man who had a great harvest and went off to build more and more barns to store his crop.

Now, on the surface, this all sounds great. It’s smart, it’s what you should do. Otherwise, your great harvest will be ruined if not taken care of. Jesus added ~
19 The man will say to his soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’

20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’

21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” – Luke 12

Again, Jesus’ point is not that wealth is bad, saving for retirement is good. Doing this shows wisdom. But the man was not rich towards God. Had he said, ‘let me give my first fruits to God and then store up my grain’ that would have put him on the right track. But this was all about accumulating and hoarding everything he had.
Remember, the biblical definition is – – Lusting for a greater number of temporal things that go beyond what God determines is eternally best (beyond His preferred-will). We’re coveting and lusting after something which becomes our focus and desire. Also, note that the word in Greek for COVETING and GREED is the same root word.

Before Jesus gets into the cure for greed, let’s look at envy, because I see a link between the two.

So, as we covet and lust for more, when getting more isn’t happening, you know what I mean? You’re fighting and fighting to accumulate. You’re working longer hours, you’re doing all you can to get ahead, not to save for your family, or to give to God, but you’re doing all this extra stuff, killing yourself with anxiety and worry, arguing with your spouse about money and what’s going on and it’s killing you . . .

And then your neighbor gets a promotion you don’t think they deserve. They get a new car, they tell you about their new living room furniture . . . or your coworker shows up in a new expensive outfit. They show off their new diamond necklace . . . it doesn’t matter what it is . . .

. . . and secretly, YOU ARE JUST FUMING. You’re ready to go ballistic! ‘You cry out – – – – ‘life stinks, it’s not fair, God isn’t fair.’

Do you see how easy it is to move from greed to envy? We covet something, we lust after it, we do all we can to attain it, and our neighbor gets it and we don’t. We believe we deserve what others have.

Envy is defined as ~
1. the desire to have for oneself something possessed by another; to covet; and
2. a feeling of discontent or covetousness with regard to another’s advantages, success, possessions, etc.

Envy is our longing and even lusting to possess something another person has. To envy is to feel resentful and unhappy of another, and our desire to find ways to get what they have, or go them one better.

The heart of envy is the belief that we deserve better than we’ve received.

Now, when we look at a lot of professional athletes, we see them holding out for more money. I read of one player who was paid $13 million last season and said he won’t play this year for under $14.5 million. Kirk Cousins, is a QB who’s probably going to make $30 million per year and now every other QB who has accomplished more than him is going to ask for more money. He’ll be the highest paid QB. His record is 26 wins – 30 losses as a starter. I’ve read about taxes consequences for these guys. If he gets $30 million, he might only take home about $12 million.

I think I could live on that. That would mean I only earn just under $231,000 per week. I think I could live on that.

I read about a lawyer at a seminar who told a story about a couple of sisters who came to his office to challenge the fact that their brother received the family farm in their parents’ trust. The lawyer investigated and became troubled.

He asked them, “Do you know why your parents left the farm to your brother?”

They replied, “Yes, he took care of them as they aged and worked the farm for them.”

The lawyer asked, “Did you ever help with the farm?”

“No.”

“Did you ever help take care of your parents?”

“No.”

“So, why do you think that you should receive a share of the farm?”

“Because it’s the family farm, and we believe we deserve it.”

The lawyer told them, “You have every right to contest this trust, but this trust has a clause which states ‘should this trust ever be contested and that challenge be lost, those who contest the trust will lose whatever inheritance they might have received.’ In other words, if you contest this trust and lose – your share of the inheritance will be given to your brother.

The ladies didn’t like this, but he never heard from them again.

My point is this: when we suffer from envy – we often don’t realize it. We believe we DESERVE, and therefore, whatever we have to do to get what we DESERVE is somehow justified – whether it is ends up destroying our friendships, our jobs, or our families. Because its only just that we get our fair share.

Envy is one of those terrible sins that sneaks up on you and you sometimes don’t even know you’ve fallen prey to it.

Proverbs 14:30 tells us ~
30 A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot

In other words: if you’re at peace in your heart, if you’re content, that gives you life. But when you’re not, that leads to envy. It’s the job of every advertiser to create envy in you. They want you to become dissatisfied with what you have and want more . . . and believe you deserve more. They’re most successful when they convince you that what you have is not enough.

Greed and envy are forms of idolatry. We worship accumulating more and will do whatever we can to get it. As Jesus tells us in Luke 12:34 ~
34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Whatever it is we place first, whatever it is we treasure, our heart will follow along. If we treasure making more money, then that’s where our heart is.

So, where do we go from here? What’s the solution to this double trouble?
Firstly, I touched on the need for contentment. It seems that is the solution to most of the 7 Deadly Sins. And it’s true, we don’t live in a content world. And as I just mentioned advertisers want us to be discontent, believing their product will make us feel more content and better about life.

When we see someone else getting what we believe we deserve – – we want it. Why? Because we’re not content. Go back to what Paul told Timothy ~ 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain,

7 for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. – 1 Timothy 6:6-7

In other words, whatever you have, count it as gain. It’s in the song we sing, Count your blessings. And what are you to do? NAME THEM ONE BY ONE! It’s amazing how much we have when we actually start to count our blessings. We realize how truly blessed we are.

It’s a sign that we’re content when we can proclaim God is the giver of our blessings. And our blessings start with the gift of Jesus. Without that gift, we could have everything in the world, but without Him, we are lost and we will strive and fight for more, because that’s how we base our worthiness.

With Jesus, you already have worth. You have someone who died for you to give you life. You have someone who suffered for you. You have someone who gives you amazing hope and grace and mercy. Someone who shows you how to be courageous and strong and to be encouraged. You have someone who calls you His child. You are proclaimed holy and dearly loved.

That should lead us to contentment. Knowing that God is the giver of the greatest blessings in this lifetime . . . Himself.

In Luke 12, when Jesus gave that illustration about the farmer who built up barns so he could kick back, Jesus then added this ~

31 Instead, seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you.

32 “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

In the end, I believe the cure, the way to find wholeness from GREED and ENVY is through contentment, through our faith in Jesus. God wants to give you the kingdom. How’s that for your next home? It’s His joy and pleasure to welcome you home.

Without Jesus, there’s no contentment, then we finish it up with the next step in what Jesus is calling us to do. In the next 2 verses He stated ~

33 Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys.

34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

In the end, it’s having the faith in Jesus, which leads to contentment, and ultimately it leads to a generous heart and spirit. A generous heart comes out of the fact that we’re thankful people. We have gratitude for what God has done for us. We stop our envy of what others have, and instead we’re grateful for what we have. We don’t obsess over our neighbor’s lawn or house or car or bank account or whatever it may be we obsess about. Be grateful for what you have! Stop comparing!!

Take time to thank God daily for His blessings! Give thanks for what you have, even in the midst of the storms! When we consider God’s presence in the past, we will be reminded of His presence in the future. Our security comes from God, not our bank accounts or social status or even good looks.

By practicing generosity because of our contentment and thankfulness – – – through our faith in Jesus — — we will find freedom from envy and greed. Generosity, gratitude, contentment, through Him, through the One who is above all, the One who redeems you and I, freely, willingly, always . . . the One who set us free to enjoy the blessings of the Father . . . and has called you and I to be the very person He has called us to be. That is the hope of moving beyond the sins of envy and greed.

It’s not easy, but it starts with faith! That’s always our starting point!

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