Devotional Week 40 Friday
“’Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts.”
Zechariah 4: 6
“’I have only to get in touch with God and to maintain communication with Him, though it may be only one little finger of faith, and that will be enough to make His power mine for the doing of this bit of service that just now seems too much for me.’ And I was helped to dismiss my weariness and to realize this truth.”
From the Life of Fuller Purpose
Today’s Study Text:
“And he (Gehazi) said, ‘All is well. My master hath sent me, saying, Behold, even now there be come to me from Mount Ephriam two young men of the Sons of the Prophets: give them, I pray thee, a talent of silver, and two changes of garments.’ And Naaman said, ‘Be content, take two talents.’ And he urged him (Gehazi) and bound two talents of silver in two bags, with two changes of garments, and laid them upon two of his servants; and they bare them before him.”
II Kings 5: 22, 23
“The Grubbiness of Greed”
Definition of Grubby: Unkempt, dirty, infested, contemptible.
Definition of Greed: An overwhelming desire to acquire or possess something in quantity. Desiring more power or money than one requires or deserves.
“Only the dead fail to reach out with two hands.”
Christine de Pisan
In what ways has a spirit of greed touched my life?
How does the all-pervasive desire to have more affect the way I live in the world today?
“Today some people think they’re ‘doing without’ if they can’t afford to buy dessert.”
“Greed of gain is nothing less than the deification of self, and if our minds are set on hoarding wealth, we are being idolatrous.”
When I was a young girl, my sister and I liked nothing more than to go outside and grab the big white metal tub that we used to make a special concoction we called “gooshie-gobble.” Yes, it sounds strange and believe me, it looked even stranger! This mixture was essentially dirt mixed with water. However, on one particular day, we found a dark pile of “soil” on the vacant lot behind our house and after scooping up load-after-load of this fine looking “dirt,” we added water and “WOW” what a great mixture we had to prepare mud-pies with.
After laying out our creative delicacies on little metal doll plates, we marched in to the house to proudly show-off to our mother.
With one strong “whiff” of the aroma we carried into the house, our mother wanted us to show her exactly where we had been playing. To her horror, someone had dumped a huge heap of manure on the lot, leaving it for two little girls to enjoy.
As I can remember now, this was the first occasion that I heard the word “grubby” used – and it wasn’t in a good way. This is how I recall my mother’s response, “You two grubby little girls go straight to the bathroom. Remove all your grubby clothes and put your grubby bodies into the bathtub.” That’s how I think things went down. And by the way, I believe that water and soap weren’t the only cleansing agents my mother used that day – a little (may have been a lot!) of disinfectant went into the bathtub, too.
Years later, as I look back on the adventures of two little girls and their foray into a grubby world of mud pies, I have to admit that big girls and big boys, too, often accidently or even intentionally commit their fair share of “diving into dung.” And it isn’t animal by-products. The manure we too frequently choose to rummage around in comes in the form of greed and envy – dishonesty and selfishness – cheating and murder. Nasty stuff. Smelly waste. Or as grubbiness is defined, “infestation.” A truer description would be difficult to find for a heart that is overcome with a desire for more and more and more in the face of plenty is “infested” with a pest that is hard to eradicate. Many years ago, a close friend, who had been on vacation for a week, found that one of his friends who had been tasked with caring for his two cats while he was camping, had let the animals into his house, by mistake. When he arrived home, I can still remember his phone call, warning me not to stop by his home for it had to be literally fumigated. Frankly, the solution for the grubbiness of greed calls for a heavenly sanitization that is no less thorough.
Years ago, in the time of great masters of thought like Seneca, Horace, and Juvenal, there was a great deal spoken about the harmful consequences of a life of greed or avarice as it was often referred to. Horace noted that the “covetous man (or women) is ever in want.” And Juvenal even went a step further by asserting that “avarice increases with the increasing pile of gold.”
In early Christian times, as part of a desire to point out the fact that fallen humans’ tendency is to sin, there was a definition of vices, referred to as the “Seven Deadly Sin” which were: wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony.
Interestingly, if you were to take these vices and examine each one on its own, you would find that the underpinning of each vice is really greed, which Jesus, in His earthly ministry referred to as the “love of money.” Somehow though, down through time, we have seemed to turn greed into a white-washed quality. As Dorothy Sayers stated in these thought-provoking words, “It was left for the present age to endow ‘covetousness’ with glamour on a big scale, and to give it a title which it could carry like a flag. It occurred to somebody to call it ‘enterprise.’ From the moment of that happy inspiration, ‘covetousness’ has gone forward and never looked back.” These words were penned in 1949 and to quote an old ad slogan, “We’ve Come A Long Way, Baby.” What a despicable mess we find ourselves in today covered from head-to-toe by the grubbiness of greed.
When in 1987 the movie, Wallstreet, was released with the corporate raiding business titan, Gordon Gekko, preaching from his bully pulpit that “Greed Is Good,” I really thought a lot of people fell under the spell created by a culture that said, “I don’t care who I step on as long as I can get all I can on my way to the top.”
Here we are in 2013, and just this past week, I read an article where a journalist was interviewing individuals whose wealth exceeded 1 billion dollars. The question at the center of this particular article was this: “How much money does it take to satisfy a person? How much is really enough?” Author Donald William Bradley Robinson observed, “One of the weaknesses of our age is our apparent inability to distinguish our needs from our greeds.”
Simply put – this is exactly what got Gehazi into trouble. At some point in his time, he became discontented with his lot in life. As Matthew Henry states, “Gehazi’s sin was a complicated sin…His master did not take Naaman’s treasures, but he coveted them…He blamed his master for refusing Naaman’s present, condemned him as foolish in not taking the gold when he might have it, envied and begrudged his kindness and generosity to this stranger, though it was for the good of Naaman’s soul.”
It would do us well to let Gehazi’s folly turn our eyes toward the words of Jesus who told His followers: “’Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions’” (Luke 12: 15, N.R.S.V.). May we allow God’s Spirit to cleanse our lives from the grubbiness of greed.
“Greed has three facets; love of things, love of fame, and love of pleasure.”
“Lord, take as Your right, and receive
as my gift, all my freedom,
my understanding and my will.
Whatever I am and whatever I possess,
You have given to me;
I restore it all to You again,
To be at Your disposal,
according to Your will.
Give me only a love for You,
and the gift of Your grace.
Then I am rich enough,
and ask for nothing more.”
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author