Then He said to them, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.”
– Luke 12:15 NASB (Jesus speaking)
If we are going to live for Jesus instead of ourselves, we’re going to have to sensitize ourselves to the greed that so often enters our souls and corrupts us. Jesus tells us here to be on guard against “every form” of it. That is, He is warning us that greed takes on different forms.
The most obvious form of greed is wanting more stuff than we need. The excessive accumulation of stuff makes clear that there is a difference between our wants and our needs – and sometimes the difference is great, leading to our misery and the misery of those around us. We should not need to be reminded that “not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions” because there are so many rich people who are miserable. It’s not the lack of stuff that leads to unhappiness; it’s the unwillingness to be content that makes us think more stuff would make us happy. There are many things that can fit the definition of stuff: salary, cars, popularity, and so on.
An example of a more subtle form of greed is gluttony – wanting more food that is necessary to nourish our bodies. Beware of an appetite that can never be satisfied. Think of all the things for which a human being can have an appetite; every one of them is an opportunity for greed to take root.
Stuff and appetites are God-given and good; greed is the corruption of what is God-given and good. How do we know the difference between, say, a good desire to provide for our families and a bad desire to “keep up with the Joneses”? Prayer.
Go before God. As you quietly present your heart to Him, He is able to make you aware of whether you are operating safely in the zone of pursuing legitimate needs or whether you have veered into a zone of greed. Trust the sense you have on that day, and act on it…until the day He makes you feel differently.
(Remember that prayer is more about listening than talking. Use the words below to start yourself, but then allow time to reflect more on the Scripture above before you say the “Amen.” During that time of quiet reflection, let God shape your thoughts and wait for a sense of peace to come. That’s your signal to say “Amen” and go forth to the day.)
Lord, make me aware when greed may be seeking a foothold in my life. I know this is something I have to check with You about regularly. Today is just one of those check-in’s…(this is where you remain quiet in order to let Him work in your thoughts)… Amen.