Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Sin No One Claims

The comedian Jim Gaffigan talks about how no one will ever admit they eat at McDonald’s.  He says, “They sell 6 billion hamburgers a day.  There’s only a few hundred million people in this country.  I’m not a math major, but someone’s lying.”  He may have the stats a bit off, but he has a point.   

I once heard a preacher who was at least old enough to be my father say that in his years of ministry, he had heard all sorts of confessions from church members and other people. People had sat in his office and revealed extramarital affairs, addictions to alcohol, drugs, and pornography, violent anger, gossiping, lying, stealing, even murder.  But no one had ever confessed that they had a problem with greed.  After I heard that, I thought to myself, "He's right."  The irony is that we live in a culture that is the wealthiest in human history, and everyone knows that as a society, we are incredibly materialistic, yet no one is willing to admit that they themselves have a problem with greed.  They can easily spot it in other people, especially people with more money than themselves.  But no one thinks they have that problem. I’m not a math major, but someone’s lying.

Can you admit you have a greed problem?  Greed isn’t just the sin of hedge fund managers who get angry that their $4 million dollar bonus isn’t big enough, or bankers who can’t wait to foreclose on some poor widow who can’t pay her mortgage.  If you ever find yourself thinking, “If only I had this much, I could be happy”…if you sometimes resent people who have more, especially if you don’t think they work as hard as you…if you’ve got unpaid credit card debt…if you’ve ever bought something you knew you couldn’t afford, thinking, “I’ll worry about that later”…if you spend more time thinking about the stuff you don’t have than you do thanking God for the stuff you do have, you have a problem with greed. Colossians 3:5 says greed is idolatry.  We worship money and possessions.  They give us a sense of identity and a temporary burst of happiness.  We sacrifice our physical, emotional, and financial well-being to attain what we think we have to have.  We sacrifice our children and our other loved ones to work the hours it takes to achieve the lifestyle we think we deserve.  That is worship.  So how can we break that idolatry?  We’ll look at a story this Sunday (Luke 19:1-10) that will be familiar to anyone who went to Sunday School as a child; it’s the story of a wee little man who broke free of the bondage of greed.

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