We’ve been looking at the seven deadly sins and their blessing counterparts.
So far we’ve looked at pride and humility and seen:
Pride always leads us away from God. Humility leads us to Him.
We’ve looked at envy and contentment and seen:
1 Timothy 6:6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.
And we’ve looked at sloth and zeal and learnt that we should:
Romans 12:11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.
Today we start by looking at
Greed is one of the prime or capital sins because it gives rise to other sins.
Wall St scene: “Greed is good”
Isn’t it amazing how virtuous a sin can be made to sound? (Great scriptwriting!)
Biblical warnings against greed are clear and are rooted in the ten commandments:
Exodus 20:17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
Greed is the disordered love of riches.
Note that it’s a “disordered love” of riches. There’s nothing wrong with riches themselves. It’s not a sin to be rich. On the contrary, money and material goods are not evil but good. However, a healthy desire for natural wealth (provision) can grow into an unnatural and unhealthy desire for riches.
Simply put, if we love money more than God and more than other people, we sin as idolaters and have fallen for a lie.
Contemporary research in the social sciences reinforces Biblical teaching: Money, even millions and millions of dollars, simply cannot make us happy.
It’s shocking because it contradicts our society’s materialistic assumptions, but how can we ignore the hard truth: Once beyond poverty, further economic growth does not appreciably improve human morale. Making more money—that aim of so many graduates and other American dreamers . . . does not breed bliss. (Dr David Myers The Pursuit of Happiness, 44)
So, Greed lies.
Jesus taught a lot about the disordered love of money: “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matt. 6:24). Greed – a disordered love of money – drives people away from fellowship with each other and with God.
When see this demonstrated in Acts 5:1 when Ananias and Sapphira, in their greed, lie to God and the whole church and pay for their sin with their lives.
We also see it demonstrated when Jesus was speaking to the crowd in Luke 12:13. The context here is what gives the words of the young man their sinfulness. Jesus has just been talking about how much God loves all people, the importance of acknowledging God before others, the terrible sin of blaspheming the Holy Spirit, and the wonderful gift and workings of the Holy Spirit. And then this guy in the crowd calls out, “Hey, tell my brother to give me my share of the money.” He wasn’t listening to a thing Jesus said. All he was thinking about was the money. This is where the sin of greed robs us of real riches. He’s listening to Jesus talk about the riches of heaven but all he can think about is the riches of the world.
The temptation to worship money, rather than God, is the root sin of greed.
What’s the opposite – the spiritual counterpart – of greed?
Psalm 37:21 The wicked borrow and do not repay, but the righteous give generously.
Giving generously is a staple deed of righteous people.
Our model for generosity is God “who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms” Ephesians 1:3
As children of God, we should want to bless others in much the same way.
There are three areas of generosity I would like to look at this morning.
1. Financial 経済的
With financial generosity we start with the tithe. This is something we all need to be reminded of from time to time. There is a Biblical command and principal that we are to give 10% of our earnings to God. This is an act of worship. And it is a demonstration of trust in God that He will provide for us.
Rick Warren said something really interesting recently about this. We tend to think of trusting in God in very abstract terms. A spiritual matter. I mean, how can you measure a person’s trust of God? Very easily, it turns out. Look at his bank book. If he’s tithing, he’s trusting God. If he’s not tithing, he’s not trusting God. There are going to be odd times when a full 10% is not possible. Think of someone who has lost his job or a businessman who has lost his business. But these are relatively rare exceptions. For the most part, tithing is to be the standard:
Matthew 23:23 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.”
But this is not really generosity. This is worship. Generosity goes beyond this to meet the needs of those in need. Look at the example of the Macedonian Christians:
In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. 2 Cor 8:2
Christian Writer Randy Alcorn: “Giving isn’t a luxury of the rich. It’s a privilege of the poor. I’ve discovered that impoverished Christians find no greater joy than in giving.”
We, too, rich or poor, should be as generous as we can be with our money.
One more thing to look at with financial generosity. There are blessings to come from giving:
Mal 3:10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.
Luke 6:38 “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
These passages can be easily misunderstood. Some people use them like an investment plan. The way to get rich is to give! The reason I’m giving is so that it will all come back to me in abundance. Wrong motive. No. We give to God as an act of worship not an act of greed. Likewise, we give to others as an act of compassion, not as an act of selfishness.
The blessings are real. But the motives must be true.
2. Time 時間
We should be generous with our time. This is something that I think our church should really be commended for. Over the last year or two I have seen countless examples of generosity with regards to time and I’d like to encourage you to continue with this.
Proverbs 11:25 A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.
James 1:27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
3. Hospitality もてなし
Again, this is something that I think our church should be commended for but I’d like to encourage it all the more.
Romans 12:13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Hebrews 13:2 Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.
Hospitality can be a powerful means of outreach. When we bring people into our homes, when we share a meal with them, we open our lives to them and it goes much deeper than simply inviting them to church or chatting in a coffee shop.
We’ve looked at the sin of pride and the blessing of generosity.
There’s one more thing I’d like to look at before we finish:
C. Receiving graciously.
This applies, of course, to receiving the generosity of others in the church. We should receive humbly, thankfully, graciously. We should aspire to be generous to others as others have been generous to us.
But I want to apply this first and foremost to graciously receiving what God has given us.
Imagine discarding a valuable gift.
God has given us the gift of His Son and the gift of the Holy Spirit.
We need to graciously receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit with glad hearts and not grieve or quench the Holy Spirit by ignoring or sidelining Him.
Luke 11:13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
Titus 3:5b-6 He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior.
Let’s rid ourselves of any greed, excel in generosity, and receive graciously God’s generous gift of His Holy Spirit.