October 23, 2008
Generous or Greedy?
Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth
1 Timothy 6:17 Tell those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which will soon be gone. But their trust should be in the living God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment.  (NLT)

Friend to Friend 
The great Bible teacher, Howard Hendricks, was invited, along with his wife, to have dinner at the home of a very wealthy man. The Hendricks were slightly apprehensive about spending an entire evening with someone so powerful and famous but as the meal progressed, they discovered that their host was completely unassuming and surprisingly down to earth. As they were leaving, Howard Hendricks turned and asked the man, “How could you grow up in such wealth and not be consumed by materialism?” The man smiled and replied, “My parents wisely taught us that everything in our home was either an idol or a tool.” What a great truth for all of us!

We live in a “stuff” driven world where it doesn’t really matter what we have; it is never enough!  We are constantly told that the more “things” we have - the more successful we are!  Encouragements to accumulate and hoard the things of this world fuel every aspect of the media. Each day is spent looking for ways to increase our earthly treasures.  Greed has become the driving force behind much of what we do in life and as a result, is a prevailing enemy of contentment.

Calvin Miller says, “The world is poor because her fortune is buried in the sky and all her treasure maps are of the earth.”

In Philippians 4:12 the Apostle Paul writes, “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.”

Paul is driving home the point that his contentment does not depend upon “stuff” and neither should ours.  Having experienced both wealth and poverty Paul had learned to be content within – no matter what the circumstances without might be.  Notice that Paul “learned” to be content; it did not come naturally.  “Learn” literally means “initiated into the secret”.  In other words, Paul’s circumstances were his introduction to the life truth that real contentment has nothing to do with either prosperity or poverty!  Contentment is an inside job, the result of knowing God and living life against the backdrop of eternity.   It is important to understand that greed is not just about material things.  We may be guilty of wanting other people’s gifts – possessions – abilities or circumstances in life.  Driven to have the best and to be the best, we cannot simply relax and appreciate where we are and what we have. We keep pursuing things that will never satisfy, frantically trying to squeeze life out of lifeless things. That pursuit is pointless and always results in a desperate longing for something more. 

We need to understand that our Father does want us to have wealth.  We just have to be careful not to settle for money!  Instead, we need to “seek first the kingdom of God” and everything we need will be added to our lives.  Peace, joy, love, goodness, patience, purpose and power are credited to our spiritual account the moment we become a fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ.  Now that, my friend, is true wealth! 

We must constantly be alert to the subtle workings of Satan in our lives. The greatest way to guard against greed is by training our hearts and minds to view those things we possess as either tools or resources loaned to us by God.  We are simply stewards and managers of these possessions, called by God to disperse them in such a way that the needs of others are met and lost hearts drawn to Him.  Hold your possessions loosely, my friend.  Invest them in the two things that are eternal – people and God’s truth! 

We cannot “out-give” God!  But when we try, contentment will come and greed will vanish.

Let’s Pray 
Father, my heart and life are so often filled with greed and discontent.  Right now, I choose to take my eyes off of “things” and focus on what You want for my life.  Thank You for all that you have given to me and for what You have done in my heart.  I praise You, knowing that in You I have everything I need.  In Jesus’ name, Amen

Now It’s Your Turn 
We need to understand that greed will destroy our peace and contentment.  Examine your life, asking the Holy Spirit to reveal every area of greed. Confess your greed as sin and choose against it while looking for ways to practice “Kingdom” giving.  Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What areas of my life are most affected by greed?  
  • What are my idols?  
  • What “things” or “desires” do I need to give up so that greed will have no grip on my life?  
  • What specific ways can I begin to practice “Kingdom” giving?  
  • What is the first step I should take in order to guard against greed?

More from the Girlfriends 
The stores already have their Christmas stuff out!  Can you believe it?  The holiday season is quickly approaching.  Get ready today for those shopping trips ahead.  Set limits for your time and for your checkbook.  Control your “wants.”  Establish priorities.  Fix your heart on the setting of “contentment” and make this the best holiday season ever!  One of the greatest gifts you can give is a book or CD that will give repeated through the year and impact a life for Jesus Christ.  Check out the resources we have in the GIG Store and give a gift that matters. 

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