Greed

www.bryanhudson.com
http://www.bryanhudson.com

1Kings 21:4: And Ahab went into his house vexed and sullen because of what Naboth the Jezreelite had said to him, for he had said, “I will not give you the inheritance of my fathers.” And he lay down on his bed and turned away his face and would eat no food.

Ahab the king of Israel was sullen, not because he was defeated in battle, but because Naboth refused to hand over his father’s inheritance to him (1Kings 21).

Ahab was in the throes of the spirit of greed and he did not know it. One of the Ten Commandments is: thou shall not covet your neighbour’s property (Exodus 20:117). Therefore contentment is a virtue that everyone should covet. In the midst of trying to keep on with the Joneses, we should be careful to not be captured by the love of money.

The love of money, Paul wrote, is the root of all evil (1Timothy 6:10). He said: having food and raiment, let us therefore be content (1Timothy 6:8). In another place, Paul revealed that he has learnt in whatever position he is, to be content (Philippians 4:11). He had to learn contentment. It means he was not born with it. Everyone is born with the greedy strain.

Jesus taught: beware of covetousness (Luke 12:15); the life of a man does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses. Surely King Ahab did not get that memo, because we went into a spiral of depression because he was given what he wanted, which was not his to start with, and he did not really need. He only needed it for the aesthetic purpose, just for the sake of getting more things. When he did not immediately have his way, he felt rejected and became distraught.

Judas was a man who was in bondage to greed (John 12:6, Matthew 26:15), he was the only one among the twelve disciples who engaged in stealing, and that tendency, that love of money, was the root the devil hung on to stir him towards betraying Jesus.

He went to the Pharisee to ask: what will you give me to get Jesus for you, so that you can whatever you want with him? He sold his soul to the devil for 30 pieces of silver. It was a sad end to a man who has such a great prospect. He was like Esau who did not think anything of his birthright and exchanged it for a meal (Genesis 25:27-34). Judas was trapped by greed, blinded from the implication of betraying Jesus, whom he had walked with for years, like Esau was blinded from seeing the value in his birthright, when he was hungry.

Greed is responsible for unregulated debt accumulation. Paul said: owe no man anything except to love them, being a debt that needs to always be paid and cannot be fully paid (Romans 13:8). In another place in the bible, a wise man noted that the borrower is the servant to the lender (Proverbs 22:7).

We should be moving in the world, not as takers but as givers, and Jesus said: It is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). But Ahab had an acquisition mindset; he believed he has the right to the best just because he is king; he has a twisted need to control more resources, even if they are not.

He did not think it was anything for him to make other people sad as long as he is happy; when he succeeded in killing Naboth through the act of his wife, he was happy to take over the vineyard. There, Elijah met him and rebuked him for causing trouble for Israel and told him that he was ripe for the judgment of God, together with his whole household.

Greed in leaders is particularly damaging. It makes them abuse their position, harming those they ought to protect. David was greedy. He had an harem, but he took the wife of Uriah slept with her and killed him just as Ahab killed Ahab (2Sameul 11).

Greed is inordinate desire that operates regardless of who is hurt of what law is broken, Gehazi told a lie to get something from the Syrian general. He could not imagine allowing the man to go without extracting from him the exotic one-in-town cloth from Syria. He seems to have a taste for things foreign because when the Syrian General came, Gehazi was not naked (2Kings 5), neither was he starving, so he did not really need what he lied to get, as Ahab did not really need the Vineyard of Naboth. But greed does not differentiate between what is needed and what is not.

It was greed that led Eve to eat the forbidden fruit (Genesis 3). Not that she was hungry, or that God has been hard on her, putting them on a programme of grievous fast. They disobeyed God in the mist of plenty. The greedy desires were put in Eve through her conversation with the devil, and she chose to act on it. Greed is attracted to what is seen; Eve had to see the forbidden fruit in a different (satanic) light for her to get greedy for it.

So beware lest the seed of greedy discontent be inadvertently sown in you because of the people you move with, people you listen to. Paul warned that bad company corrupt good manners (1Corinthians 15:33). The man who is called blessed in the first chapter of the book of Psalm does not associate with the scornful, standing in the way of sinners, nor walk in the way of the ungodly, he spends time with God and his word so that is motivation can always be pure.

Jesus said that we should beware of covetousness (Luke 12:15) (which Paul defined as idolatry [Colossian 3:5]) because the life of a man does not consist of the things he possesses. Paul said that godliness with contentment is great gain (1Timothy 6:6). “Greed” will throw away the necessity for godliness, disqualifying you from the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, as it disqualified Judas (Philippians 3:14).

So Paul said that he puts his body under (including his eyes), regulates it vigorously, so that after he has preached to others, he would not be casted away (due to greed) (1Corinthians 9:27). Gehazi was casted away, losing out on the possibility of becoming a great prophet after Elisha, just as Elijah took over from Elijah (1Kings 2:1-14).

When Elijah was about to be taken up to heaven, if Elisha had been the greedy one like Gehazi, when Elijah asked: what would you want me to give you? He would have asked what the eyes can see, what his tangible, but he asked for double the spiritual virtue of Elijah.

But Elisha had proved his pure motivation at the time Elijah laid his mantle on him, he killed the oxen he was working with (which stands for his economic life) in his farm (1Kings 19:19-21). He was willing to let go of his economic life to lay hold of his spiritual calling.

Greed will get you down faster than most things will. Paul said those who are covetous run the risk of getting themselves pierced with many sorrows (1Timothy 6:3-11).

Nothing satisfies like doing the will of God. Eve thought by eating the forbidden fruit she would be satisfied, but it filled it her with dread as she found that greed rather than covering her with wisdom, removed from the glory of God and she saw herself as naked.

Do not purse riches pursue God, as it is written, seek ye first the kingdom of God and all these things shall be added to you, all what the unbelievers go after (Matthew 6:33).

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