Help! I struggle with porn. Check.
Help! I struggle with alcohol. Check.
Help! I struggle with anger. Check.
Help! I struggle with greed… not so much.
It would be a rare event for me on a Sunday not to have someone ask for help or prayer in relation to need for money, however I have never been approached by someone asking for help to know how to give their money away.
It strikes me that for those of us living in the relative comforts of this Western world, having money is often a greater test of faith than not. The sin of greed is one that affects ‘other people’ but hallelujah, never me!
Two of the most famous things Jesus taught on money are found in Matthew 6:
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth… (Matthew 6:19-21)
“…You cannot serve God and money. (Matthew 6:24)
But what’s really curious about these two passages is what’s wedged between them:
“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.” (V 22-23)
In a passage where Jesus is challenging attitudes toward money he also draws attention to the ‘eye’, why? We know moments like these in the Bible are no fluke; he intentionally crafted his sermon this way. I wonder if Jesus anticipated – among his hearers – people like me whose default response to ‘don’t lay up for yourselves treasurer on earth’ is to think, ‘ that’s not something I’m likely to do, but I must pray for Joseph Bloggs, he really is greedy with money’. The truth is that we are blinded to our own greed.
I watched Oliver Twist (classic!) with my 4-year-old daughter last weekend and had an interesting conversation with her following the scene where Mr Bumble is trying to make a few bob on Oliver. This line in particular…
“If I should say he wasn’t very greedy, I could not, I’d be telling you a tale.”
Coming from the mouth of the rotund Mr Bumble is somewhat ironic given the pasty and scrawny Oliver walking alongside him, whose great ‘greed’ was to request an extra bowel of gruel… The irony was not lost on my daughter who was quick to point out whom she considered to be the greedier of the two!
Of course greed isn’t limited to money, but happens to be an area Jesus frequently identified as a great barrier to receiving and then in turn distributing grace, ‘eye of the needle’, etc.
How do we kill greed in us? Here are some prayers that might help:
‘Father in heaven, help me to see the infinite worth of the treasure I have in Christ, that will never be taken from me and supersedes all the ‘treasures’ of this world’.
‘Father, please give me a healthy eye, and let your light shine in and through me to expel all darkness’.
‘Father, please give me the courage to be a doer of the word and to live a life of generosity not greed.’
Help! I’m greedy, but ‘thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift” (2 Corinthians 9:15).
Where does your treasure lie?