Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.”
John 13: 34
“Enjoying each other’s good is heaven begun.”
Lucy C. Smith
Today’s Study Text:
“And He said unto them, ‘Take heed and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesses.”
Luke 12: 15
“Greedy For Gain” Part 2
“The God of greed is a cheat. His delights have the power to dazzle and excite but they can satisfy nobody.”
When Jesus came to earth, giving us a tangible picture of what God was like, how did He treat the poor?
How did He treat those with riches?
What did Jesus say about greed?
“And He (Jesus) went on to say to them all, ‘Watch out and guard yourselves from every kind of greed; because your true life is not made up of the things you own, no matter how rich you may be.”
Luke 12: 15
Good News Bible
“Suppose everybody cared enough, everybody shared enough, wouldn’t everybody have enough? There is enough in the world for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed.”
Over the past few days, as we have taken a closer look at the meaning of the words extravagance, lust, excess, idolatry and greed, especially as they apply to a time in the history of the nation of Israel during King Solomon’s rulership, when “silver” was so common it was likened to stones, I found for myself, a new recognition of how easy it is to get sucked into the worldliness of living for one’s self. But what’s more, I’ve come to more deeply appreciate why it is that God warns us to keep our lives focused on His path and away from the possessions which can complicate our lives.
While we are given many examples, throughout the Old Testament, of how God’s children frequently ignored His guiding hand and struck out on their own willful ways, we also find that God, in His gracious kindness, sent His dear Son, as a living example; Jesus came to earth and showed us, by His daily life, a pattern for living which exemplifies God’s call, throughout the entire Bible, to a generous-hearted life of loving service for others.
This is why I thought it would help us better understand God’s ideal by taking a few moments to look more closely at the way Jesus lived when He was on earth and additionally, to study the words He spoke, inviting us to live with contentment and unselfishness.
Our study today focuses on the word in Greek which is “Pleonexia”. This word describes a sin which in the New Testament is condemned, repeatedly. In our study text, Luke 12: 15, the word “covetousness” is used in the Amplified Bible, with this more complete description: “the immoderate desire for wealth, the greedy longing to have more.” In other words, Jesus was warning His listeners to “guard” themselves from living a life that has as its sole goal the acquisition of things. But the Amplified Bible also illuminates the meaning of Jesus’ words with this final phrase: “For a man’s life does not consist in and is not derived from possessing overflowing abundance or that which is over and above his (or her) needs.”
It is this particular phrase that leads us back to the New Testament word “Pleonexia” which the world-renowned Scottish New Testament interpreter and scholar William Barclay states is an “ugly word” in Greek. He further explains that, “in classical Greek it means ‘an arrogant greediness, the spirit which tries to take advantage of its fellow-men.’”
The Greek word, “Pleonexia,” was what was most frequently used by the “common” people or what you and I would use in our everyday language. And when this word was incorporated into regular speech, it meant “shameless overreaching, ambitious violence to get ahead.” This makes me think of the way we hear some people today talk about how it doesn’t matter who you have to climb over to get ahead.
In Latin this word was tied to the, “accursed love of possessing” and the scholar Cicero defined a Latin equivalent to the word which means, “the unlawful desire for things which belong to others.”
William Barclay, in explaining how the word “Pleonexia” is used in Luke 12: 15, our study text, has this to say: greed or covetousness is “the sin of the man (or woman) who evaluates life in material terms, who thinks that the value of life lies in the number of things that a man (or woman) possesses, the man (or woman) whose one desire is to get and who never even thinks of giving.”
If we move a little further through the New Testament to Paul’s letter to the people in Colosse, he also warns them by telling them that, “when Christ, Who is our life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in the splendor of His glory. So kill, deprive of power the evil desire…and all that is earthly in you that is employed in sin…and all greed and covetousness, for that is idolatry, the deifying of self and other created things instead of God” (Colossians 3: 4, 5 Amplified Bible).
When we begin to understand the warnings given in Scripture to guard us against the temptation to put everything we possess, be they people or possessions, before God, it makes me think a great deal about the life of Jesus.
As Ronald J. Sider writes, God did not become flesh as a wealthy aristocrat…Jesus preached to the rich. But it was His particular concern to preach to the poor that validated His claim to messiaship…The clearest statement about Jesus’ identification with the poor is in Matthew 25: “I was hungry and you gave me food”…what does it mean to feed and clothe the Creator of all things? We cannot know. We can only look at the poor and oppressed with new eyes and resolve to heal their hurts and help end their oppression.”
From the words of Jesus, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” John 10:10 (KJV). As William Gibson so beautifully expresses, “The abundance to which Jesus pointed was explicitly not the abundance of possessions. It was the abundance of the restored relationship, the God-relationship. It was the freedom to enjoy the community -- the giving-and-receiving relationship with one another for which we were created.”
May we never forget the words of King Solomon, whose words stand as a warning to us today: “A greedy and grasping person destroys community” Proverbs 15:27 (The Message Bible).
when in Jesus You walked this earth,
You had no place to call Your own,
no place to lay Your head.
As we stand by the landless and the homeless
and support those who struggle alongside them,
may we stand by You,
seeing Your face and image there.”
“Then the King will say:
‘I was hungry and you fed Me,
I was thirsty and you gave Me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave Me a room,
I was shivering and you gave Me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to Me,’
Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say,
‘Master, what are You talking about?
When did we ever see You hungry and feed You,
Thirsty and give You a drink?
And when did we ever see You sick
Or in prison and come to You?’
Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth:
Whenever you did one of these things to someone
Overlooked or ignored, that was Me –
You did it to ME!”
Matthew 25: 31-40
The Message Bible
“Generous God, You created this world for all to share,
Unclench our hands to let go of the greed which robs the poor,
Unclog our ears to hear the agony of all who cry for justice,
Unbind our hearts to recognize those who are oppressed by debt,
May our care be thorough and our solidarity active,
May this community be a sign of hope,
For now is the favorable time.”
People of the parish of St. Michael’s
“Is not this the fast that I have chosen? To loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? When thou seest the naked, that thou cover (her); and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rearward.”
Isaiah 58: 6-8
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
P.S. Just to let you know, Transformation Garden is now on FACEBOOK. Please come and see us and share the garden with your friends. The Daily Devotional is posted everyday, Monday through Friday on Facebook, too.
My book, When A Woman Meets Jesus, is available wherever books are sold and on the internet at www.amazon.com, and www.Christianbook.com, or by calling toll-free, 1-800-Christian. You may also call Transformation Garden at 480-281-1508.
For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.