Greed is subtle. It knows how to hide in our hearts, lurking in the shadows where it can destroy us, undetected. We should realize this, yet we don’t. Consider: Virtually everyone agrees that greed and materialism are real problems in the world. On top of that, Christians recognize that Jesus talked openly and often about greed, saying things like this to warn us against it: “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness” (Luke 12:15a). Yet virtually no one considers himself to be a greedy person. That doesn’t add up!
We should assume that greed is, or easily can be, a problem for us. And we should fight greed in our own lives. But how?
The single best way to combat greed in our lives is to focus our minds and hearts on the riches we have received in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
In 2 Corinthians 8 and 9, Paul asks the Corinthian church to give an offering to the poor. It is striking how Paul goes about making this request. Paul was an apostle, and the greatest church planter the world has known. He had massive authority and credibility among the Corinthians. He could have come in and demanded that they give to this offering. He could have ordered them. But he doesn’t do that. He says, in fact, I say this not as a command…(2 Cor 8:8a). He doesn’t want to twist their arms, in other words. He wants to move their hearts.
So what does he do? In the next verse, he says these famous words: For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich (2 Cor 8:9).
Jesus Christ, the second person of the Trinity, the one and only begotten Son of God, possessed infinite spiritual wealth. But, had he held onto it, we would have died in spiritual poverty. So, though he was rich, for your sake and mine he became poor. Philippians says he made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant. And his humble service led him to an unjust, agonizing, and horrific death on the cross, where he died to pay the penalty for your sin and mine.
And he did that so that we, by trusting in him, might become spiritually rich through his spiritual poverty. In Christ, we are welcomed into God’s forever family and adopted as sons and daughters. We have a full share of Christ’s inheritance from the Father – meaning we will enjoy eternity with Christ as his brothers and sisters in the new heavens. We have intimate and immediate access to the Father. We are robed in Christ’s righteousness, so that the glory Jesus deserves for his perfect life is wondrously ours by faith. We are sealed by the Holy Spirit, who testifies to our hearts the truth of the gospel so that we can persevere in the faith. The riches Christ has given us are unending and of infinite value.
When we consider them…When we focus our hearts and our lives on them…Then we don’t need to cling to the riches of this world anymore. We need not worry about money or possessions as a means to our personal security or provision, because the cross proves God’s love and care for us. We need not be gripped by envy or jealousy or greed, because Jesus has given us the most valuable thing that can ever be given.
The best way to fight greed is to reorient our hearts around the gospel.
One who treasures his riches in Christ far above and against any earthly riches can never rightly be called a fool.
This is an excerpt from the message, The Rich Fool, preached at Capitol City Christian Church on 3/17/2019. To hear the entire message, click here.