Heart trained in greed

selfie-413162_6402Peter 2:14: having eyes full of desire for an adulteress and unceasing from sin, enticing unstable persons, and having hearts trained for greediness. Accursed children!

This verse highlights certain parts of the human body and how they are misapplied. They are the eyes, the hearts. The eyes is associated with adultery and the heart with greed, or covetousness. The opposite is eyes full of purity and heart full of contentment.

Eyes full of adultery

One of the Ten Commandments is thou shall not commit adultery, revealed a penchant to be unfaithful, to be a bed hopper.

Jesus said if your eyes causes you to sin, pluck it out (Mark 9:47). That is at least partly relating to the sin of adultery. Job said: I have made a covenant with my eyes why would I look upon a maid (Job 31:1). Knowing that is a major point of stumbling of many men and women he chose to be different, just as Joseph chose to be different (Genesis 39:7-23).

Joseph saw all the decadence in the land of Egypt, but refused to be part of it. He chose to be true to God and not conform to the world as it was at that time. He refused to have his eyes full of adultery since it was full of the word of God. He gazed firmly on the vision that God has set before him that he would a leader and would not be distracted.

David got distracted by an adulterous eye (2Samuel 11), and the consequences for him were devastating. In the book of Corinthians Paul rebuked the church, saying there is fornication among you (1Corinthians 5:1-5), even the kind that are not mentioned among the unbelievers. (He classifies sexual sin differently [1Corinthians 6:18].) He refused to condone it and declare that a severe action should be meted out to the perpetrator. And Lot seeing the immorality in Sodom, refused to be bent by it (2Peter 2:5-9).

We read in the book of psalms: your words have I hidden in my heart that I may not sin against you (Psalm 119:9-11). Here was a man who knowing that it is possible to sin refused to deal with it by wishful thinking but by putting the word of God in his heart. Therefore any neglect of the word of God is a risk that we should not take.

The path of wisdom in the book of proverbs is first about avoiding sexual sin. The 5th and 6th chapters of the book is a guide on walking away from the temptation of sexual sin.

Sexual sins mentioned in the bible include homosexuality, adultery, fornication, incest, bestiality. Sexual bondages not mentioned directly are masturbation and pornography. But that they are wrong is clear from the word of Jesus.

He said that if you look at a woman to lust after her the adulterous act is already committed in the heart (Matthew 5:27-30). There goes the prohibition on masturbation and pornography.

The two are tricky because you do not need the permission of anybody to be engaged in them, and so you can be deceived that means there is nothing much to them.

But, realise that Jesus is not just concerned about what you do with your body but also what you do with your mind. You do not want to be described by him, as he did the Pharisee, as being a whitewashed sepulchre, white on the outside but inwardly full of decay (Matthew 23:27).

Heart trained in greed

Greediness is about the love of the world and the things in the word (1John 2:15-17), it is about acquisition (Luke 12:15), thinking that your life is about the abundance of things you possess. It is about covetousness (Colossians 3:5, Ephesians 5:3), the pride of life, while God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble (1Peter 5:5). Paul wrote that having food and raiment we should be content (1Timothy 6:8). The point is: are we content?

If there is any battle we need to fight is the battle for contentment. Paul said that he has learnt (through many battles) to tame his appetite, being flexible to learn how to abound (express abundance) and how to abase (cope with being limited).

Therefore, just as the heart can be trained in greed it can be trained in contentment. Greedy leaders want to use the church to feed their gnawing hunger for more (Philippians 3:19).

Agur in the book of Proverbs said four things are never satisfied: the grave, the barren womb, the earth in need of water and fire. But greediness is not just negative, in the love of money, which Paul hinted was what affected Demas’ devotion to the course of Christ as a ministry (2Timothy 4:10).

Hunger and thirst for the things of God for the presence of God is the prerequisite for more of God (Mathew 5:6). And we understand that we need more of God. We need “greediness” of heart for the things of God, for his knowledge.

Paul wrote that we should he inept when it comes to malice (1Corinthians 14:20) but we should be men when it comes to understanding. It means we should be so greedy of understanding that we are always in pursuit of it.

The bible says buy the truth and sell it not (Proverbs 23:23). We need to a level of devotion to truth before that can happen. To buy truth means to give up something for it, it is sacrificing for truth. Paul said that it does not matter what he loses as long as he gains Christ (Philippians 3:7).

Just as a heart can be trained in the wrong kind of greed, it has also be trained in the right kind of “greed.” Moses is a classic case of greediness for the presence of God. After he had been with God on the mount in a forty days and forty nights encounter without water or food, he said to God: show me your glory (Exodus 33:18). He could not get enough of God. At this time there are manifestations of God that Moses had seen, and he had been the means for God to make many glorious things to happen on the earth.

Another thing we should be greedy for is obedience, because what you are greedy for is what you think would bring satisfaction. Jesus was like that. He said to his disciples: I have food to eat which you do not know, to do the will of the father and to fulfil his work (John 4:34).

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