There once was a little deformed creature that lived inside my heart. I rarely saw him; he preferred to live in a tiny out-of-the way hole inside my chest. He was smaller than his other brothers and therefore was usually able to perform his wicked deeds below my radar.
His name was Greed.
He seemed harmless enough. He never bit my hand and he actually made me feel secure. He told me if I had money in my savings account, then I could face anything life threw at me. He whispered how nice that new shirt would feel or how cool I would be with that cell phone over there. When money issues were brought up at church, he would remind me that I had responsibilities first and needed to pay the bills at home. Besides, God doesn’t need my money? Right?
I began to realize just how dangerous he was when I found my heart attaching to the things around me. My house, my car, the new dishware. He had thrown out ropes from my heart and wrapped them around the objects around me… and I never knew. Until those things were taken away.
And then I felt the pain of Greed.
Have you ever felt that? The roaring inside your heart when something you like is taken away or destroyed? The car gets scratched, the kids draw all over the walls, the dog throws up on the couch. My heartstrings were attached to the things of this world. And it was time for God to get out the scissors.
Snip. Snip. There went the house. Snip. There went the savings account. Snip. Snip. There went the TV, the furniture, the dishware. God took everything away (or put it in a storage shed) when my husband was unemployed. I was stripped down to nothing but the clothes I had and my computer (God didn’t take that away lol). But I have learned a huge lesson during those times God has used the scissors:
Greed lied to me. And Greed hurt me.
Nice salaries, large bank accounts, a hefty retirement (or even being debt free) is not a security in life. God is.
A beautiful home, nice cars, the latest cell phone, designer clothes only bring temporary pleasure. But God brings a fullness to life that nothing in this world can give.
But I don’t have any of those things, you might think. Yeah, actually, neither did I. But you don’t need things in order for Greed to move in and start attaching your heart to this world. You just need to want them, hold them tightly when you finally do, and roar when someone or something takes them away.
The poorest person in the world can still have Greed living in their heart. And the richest person can be free of the bondage of Greed. Why? Greed has nothing to do with possessions or money, it has to do with the heart (where Greed likes to live).
So how do you kick Greed out of its hidey-hole?
Well, you could get rid of everything you have. I wonder if Jesus saw a major infestation of Greed when the rich young man ran up to him and asked how he could inherit eternal life (Mark 10:17-27). Greed may be small, but the ropes it uses to tie us to the world can be iron solid. I love how Mark says, “Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him”. God doesn’t want Greed to stay in our hearts. In fact, Greed can keep us from experiencing the true fullness God wants to give us. Mark ends with saying, “At this, the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.”
Getting rid of everything may be a bit farfetched, but here a couple more doable ideas:
1) Ask God to reveal Greed. Like I said, he’s small and seems relatively harmless. So we need God to shine the light on his hole and expose him for what he really is.
2) Give away stuff. There is nothing like thinking about giving away something to get Greed to come tearing out of his hole and shouting why you should keep it.
3) Tithe. Yep, tithe. I have come to believe that tithing is like taking a pill to keep the Greed away. You give to God and His church every week with joy and Greed just can’t stand that. Why? Because I believe giving then trickles into the rest of your life. You start giving stuff away. You give money to other things. And the ropes Greed was using to attach you to this world strain under that weight until they snap and you find yourself free.
And lastly, think about a big fire. When Greed comes knocking on my door, I imagine everything burning up (ok, yeah, there is a bit of a pyro in me). But the truth is, everything is going to burn in the end. And we can’t take the stuff of this world with us when we die. So then why let Greed have his way and tie me to things that are not going to last? I’d rather have the freedom God gives and His fullness and pleasure. So snip away God, snip away. And Greed be gone!
(*Originally posted August 2010).