One definition of “rich” is: “the general word to describe one who has more money or income—producing property than is necessary to satisfy his normal needs.” And there’s the trap! We are convinced we need more because we still have “needs” to meet and are conned into thinking that money can buy us the happiness that seems just out of our grasp. Which of us reading this is indeed rich according to that definition? Surely, nearly all of us. But the devil baits the money trap with greed—cheese, and church mice are just as likely as nonbelievers to get more than their whiskers caught in this one!
The greed—need tempts all of us to strive to catch up to and live up to the particular family of Joneses who live beyond our particular garden fence. The problem is a greedy little something inside every one of us that is never satisfied with merely having its needs met—it wants its wants to be met, too! If we set about getting our wants met, we will find ourselves wanting more than the “enough” that meets our needs.
In fact, the more we get, the more we want. Webster’s says that greed is “an excessive desire forgetting or having (especially wealth); a desire for more than one needs or deserves; avarice.” It expands this definition: “Wanting or taking all that one can get with no thought of others’ needs.” Greed is “getting” obsession—a religion all of its own, leading to idolatry. This greed-need is part of every human heart, part of our “earthly nature”. Every single human being is born with a greedy heart. What, for example, is usually the first word articulated by a toddler in respect to his worldly goods, mainly toys? “Mine!”
I have a vivid picture of my little girl, age three, gathering up her favorite toys, books, and even clothes into the small circle of her arms and carrying them protectively all over the house. You see, Judy had two brothers, one older and one younger! I can still see her little frowning face, telling me she was worried because she couldn’t carry all her belongings to safety.
One of the things we discover as we know Christ and increasingly experience his life in us is a growing spirit of generosity: a willingness to share. Thinking again of our three-year-old Judy—trying to survive as the middle child and endeavoring to carry all her worldly goods along with her—gives me a vivid image of what many adults do when they are caught in the money trap. For Judy, generosity came with maturity. I wish I could say the same is true for everyone! We all need to realize that generosity is God’s antidote to greed. If we suspect we are addicted to money or the possession or other. Look around to see if someone needs that particular thing more than you do. Pray about it. If you are honest, you may realize that the thing has you in its power. Give it away speedily!
Just Between Us Magazine