I was re-convicted of this, this week, and I felt that I it would be good to share some of my conviction with you. Maybe this is only my stuff…but I don’t think so. I think it is one of our great unspoken areas of heart-impurity. It’s an area of heart-impurity that we pass on to our kids…in some ways even push our kids into. It’s an area of heart-impurity that’s difficult for us to assess, but I think we have to try.
I ran across this story in the life of the early church. It’s in the book of Corinthians. (I Cor. 5) Paul is challenging the church. Actually it’s more of a rebuke. Apparently there was a man who was sleeping with his father’s wife…and for some reason the church was embracing this situation. Almost celebrating it.
Paul writes this…
How terrible that you should boast about your spirituality and yet you let this sort of thing go on. Don’t you realize that if even one person is allowed to go on sinning, soon all will be affected? When I wrote to you before I told you not to associate with people who indulge in sexual sin…but I wasn’t talking about unbelievers, you would have to leave the world to do that. What I meant was that you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a christian yet indulges in sexual sin… or is greedy.
Don’t associate out with Christians who champion sexual sin. Hard to argue with that one. It’s a purity issue. But Paul says that greed is also a purity issue. Today he might say, “Never have coffee with a greedy Christian.” The word Paul uses is the Greek word pleonexia means an unquenchable desire for more. Sometimes in the Bible it’s translated as covetousness, because it involves a willingness to get more even at the expense of others.
Here’s a definition. Greed is wanting more for myself, even to the detriment of others.
Two boys began to argue over who would get the first pancake. Their mother saw the opportunity for a moral lesson. She said, ‘If Jesus were sitting here he would say, ‘Let my brother have the first pancake. I can wait.’ Kevin turned to his younger brother and said, ‘Okay, Ryan, you be Jesus.'” THAT’S GREED! :)
Are we greedy?
– In a culture where the average credit card debt is around $9000 (and that average holds fairly true within our church.)
– Where the average giving in church is around 3% of our income.
– In a world where 1.3 billion people – 20% of humanity live in absolute poverty, surviving on less than $1 a day and are too poor to afford adequate food.
– In a world where the average Westerner lives better than 99.4% of all people who have ever lived.
– In a world where more than 1 billion people lack access to clean water and preventable water-related diseases kill an estimated 10-20,000 children every day.
– In a world where Christians compose 33% of the world population, receive 53% of the worlds annual income and spend about 97% of it on ourselves…
Do you think we might be willing to admit that greed might perhaps, possibly, be a sin that muddies up our hearts? Okay, so that we can still stay friends… :) Let me say three things…
1) I’m not here to tell you, that you’re greedy. That’s between you and God. All I know is that Lynn and I have never in any year given less than 10% to charity, usually it’s closer to 15%. We do not live extravagantly, nor do we live like misers. We enjoy going out to eat, but we also support four orphans in Myanmar. I loved going to Hawaii as a family but also loved going to Myanmar with my family to work in an orphanage. All in all, maybe kind of typical Christians, but when I studied this passage in Corinthians, my heart was pierced by God saying… “Dan you have a problem with greed.”
2) Maybe you are somewhat skeptical about Christianity. And perhaps rightly so, because in this area the church has sometimes asked for more than it has been willing to give. But here is the deal…talking about greed and generosity is important not because of what the church wants from you, but because of what God wants for you. In other words, Jesus isn’t trying to get your money, he’s trying to keep my money from getting me.
I’m not saying we should ignore sexual sin, sin results in brokenness, I don’t want anyone to experience heart-brokenness. I’m just saying that maybe the church has some heart-brokenness that looks like…greed.
3) Last and most importantly, I shared the conviction, let me also share the secret. It is just so stinking much fun to give. That’s right — stinking much fun. Don’t miss it!