* Greed can lead us into sinful surroundings
Lot’s greedy desire for the best of everything led him into sinful surroundings. His burning desire for possessions and success cost him his freedom and enjoyment. As a captive to Kedorlaomer, he faced torture, slavery, or death. In much the same way, we can be enticed into doing things or going places we shouldn’t. The prosperity we long for is captivating; it can both entice us and enslave us if our motives are not in line with God’s desires. (NLT)
Genesis 14:12 – They also captured Lot—Abram’s nephew who lived in Sodom—and took everything he owned.
* Lust leads to greed
Craving or lusting is more than inappropriate sexual desire. It can be an unnatural or greedy desire for anything (sports, knowledge, possessions, influence over others). In this circumstance, God punished the Israelites for craving good food! Their desire was not wrong; the sin was in allowing that desire to turn into greed. They felt it was their right to have fine food, and they could think of nothing else. When you become preoccupied with something until it affects our perspective on everything else, you have moved from desire to lust. (NLT)
Numbers 11:34 – So that place was called Kibroth-hattaavah—“the graves of craving”—because they buried the people there who had craved meat from Egypt. From there the Israelites traveled to Hazeroth, where they stayed for some time.
* Greed often disguised as ambition
Moses saw through their charge to their true motivation—some of the Levites wanted the power of the priesthood. Like Korah, we often desire the special qualities God has given others. Korah had significant, worthwhile abilities and responsibilities of his own. In the end, however, his ambition for more caused him to lose everything. Inappropriate ambition is greed in disguise. Concentrate on finding the special purpose God has for you instead of wishing you were in someone else’s shoes. (NLT)
Numbers 16:8-10 – Then Moses spoke again to Korah: “Now listen, you Levites! Does it seem a small thing to you that the God of Israel has chosen you from among all the people of Israel to be near him as you serve in the Lord’s Tabernacle and to stand before the people to minister to them? He has given this special ministry only to you and your fellow Levites, but now you are demanding the priesthood as well!
* Greed blinds us to God’s guidance
God let Balaam go with Balak’s messengers, but he was angry about Balaam’s greedy attitude. Balaam claimed that he would not go against God just for money, but his resolve was beginning to slip. His greed for the wealth offered by the king blinded him so that he could not see how God was trying to stop him. Though we may know what God wants us to do, we can become blinded by the desire for money, possessions, or prestige. We can avoid Balaam’s mistake by looking past the allure of fame or fortune to the long-range benefits of following God. (NLT)
Numbers 22:20-23 – That night God came to Balaam and told him, “Since these men have come for you, get up and go with them. But be sure to do only what I tell you to do.”
* – Moses warned the people not to forget God when they entered the Promised Land and became prosperous. Prosperity, more than poverty, can dull our spiritual vision because it tends to make us self-sufficient and eager to acquire still more of everything—except God. The same thing can happen in our church. Once we become successful in terms of numbers, programs, and buildings, we can easily become self-sufficient and less sensitive to our need for God. This leads us to concentrate on self-preservation rather than thankfulness and service to God. (NLT)
Deuteronomy 6:10-13 – “The Lord your God will soon bring you into the land he swore to give your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It is a land filled with large, prosperous cities that you did not build. The houses will be richly stocked with goods you did not produce. You will draw water from cisterns you did not dig, and you will eat from vineyards and olive trees you did not plant. When you have eaten your fill in this land, be careful not to forget the Lord, who rescued you from slavery in the land of Egypt. You must fear the Lord your God and serve him. When you take an oath, you must use only his name.”
* Greed can cause you to lose everything
In trying to have it all, Rehoboam lost almost everything. Motivated by greed and power, he pressed too hard and divided his kingdom. He didn’t need more money or power because he had inherited the richest kingdom in the world. He didn’t need more control because he was the king. His demands were based on selfishness rather than reason or spiritual discernment. Those who insist on having it all often wind up with little or nothing. (NLT)
2 Chronicles 10:16-19 – When all Israel realized that the kin had rejected their request, they shouted, “Down with David and his dynasty! We have no share in Jesse’s son! Let’s go home, Israel! Look out for your own house, O David!” So all Israel returned home. But Rehoboam continued to rule over the Israelites who lived in the towns of Judah.
King Rehoboam sent Adoniram, who was in charge of the labor force, to restore order, but the Israelites stoned him to death. When this news reached King Rehoboam, he quickly jumped into his chariot and fled to Jerusalem. The northern tribes of Israel have refused to be ruled by a descendant of David to this day.
* Greed, following God only for what you can get
King Zedekiah and his officials did not want to listen to Jeremiah’s words, but they wanted the blessings of his prayers. They wanted a superficial religion that wouldn’t cost anything. God is not pleased with those who come to him seeking only what they can get rather than seeking to have a relationship with him. We would not accept that kind of relationship with someone else, and we shouldn’t expect God to accept it from us. (NLT)
Jeremiah 37:2-3 – But neither King Zedekiah nor his officials nor the people who were left in the land listened to what the Lord said through Jeremiah. Nevertheless, King Zedekiah sent Jehucal son of Shelemiah and Zephaniah the priest, son of Maaseiah, to ask Jermiah, “Please pray to the Lord our God for us.”
* Greed caused Judas to betray Jesus
Why would Judas want to betray Jesus? Judas, like the other disciples, expected Jesus to start a political rebellion and overthrow Rome. As treasurer, Judas certainly assumed that he would be given an important position in Jesus’ new government. But when Jesus praised Mary for pouring out perfume worth a years’ salary, Judas may have realized that Jesus’ Kingdom was not physical or political but spiritual. Judas’s greedy desire for money and status could not be realized if he followed Jesus, so he betrayed Jesus in exchange for money and favor from the religious leaders. (NLT)
Matthew 26:14-15 – Then Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve disciples, went to the leading priests and asked, “How much will you pay me to betray Jesus to you?” And they gave him thirty pieces of silver.
* Greed comes from pride
The cure for evil desires is humility (see Proverbs 16:18-191; 1 Peter 5:5-62). Pride makes us self-centered and leads us to conclude that we deserve all we can see, touch, or imagine. It creates greedy appetites for far more than we need. We can be released from our self-centered desires by humbling ourselves before God, realizing that all we really need is his approval. When the Holy Spirit fills us, we see that this world’s seductive attractions are only cheap substitutes for what God has to offer. (NLT)
James 4:4-6 – You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with this world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again, that if your aim is to enjoy this world, you can’t be a friend of God. What do you think the Scriptures mean when they say that the Holy Spirit, whom God has placed within us, jealously longs for us to be faithful? He gives us more and more strength to stand against such evil desires. As the Scriptures say, “God sets himself against the proud, but he shows favor to the humble.”
* Greed, using religion for person enhancement
Balaam was hired by a pagan king to curse Israel. He did what God told him to do for a time, but eventually his evil motives and desire for money won out. Like the false teachers of Peter’s day, Balaam used religion for personal advancement, a sin that God does not take lightly. (NLT)
2 Peter 2:15 – They have wandered off the right road and followed the way of Balaam son of Beor, who loved to earn money by doing wrong.
1 Proud people take little account of their weaknesses and do not anticipate stumbling blocks. They think they are above the frailties of common people. In this state of mind they are easily tripped up. Ironically, proud people seldom realize that pride is their problem, although everyone around them is well aware of it. Ask someone you trust whether self-satisfaction has blinded you to warning signs. He or she may help you avoid a fall. (NLT)
Proverbs 16:18-19 – Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall. It is better to live humbly with the poor than to share plunder with the proud.
2 Both young and old can benefit from Peter’s instructions. Pride often keeps older people from trying to understand young people and keeps young people from listening to those who are older. Peter told both young and old to be humble and to serve each other. Young men should follow the leadership of older men, who should lead by example. Respect those who are older than you, listen to those younger than you, and be humble enough to admit that you can learn from others.
We often worry about our position and status, hoping to get proper recognition for what we do. But Peter advises us to remember that God’s recognition counts more than human praise. God is able and willing to bless us according to his timing. Humbly obey God regardless of present circumstances, and in his good time—either in this life or in the next—he will honor you. (NLT)
1 Peter 5:5-6 – You younger men, accept the authority of the elders. And all of you, serve each other in humility, for “God sets himself against the proud, but he shows favor to the humble.” So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and in his good time he will honor you.
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