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Lessons - Monthly Archives: April 2010

Vices and Virtues – Greed and Mercy

April 28th, 2010

Greed is particularly dangerous because it is subtle in it excess and soft in it’s hardness.  It appeals in its desire for fairness in a twisted way.

In Christian tradition, greed ranks above lust and just below pride as the all time spiritual villain.

What Is Greed?

Greed is an immoderate desire for temporal things, without any thought of the eternal.  Dorothy Sayers defines greed as “…love of the real values, of which the material world has only two:  the fruits of the earth and the labor of the people.  As for the spiritual values, (greed) has no use for them; they cannot be assessed in money, and the moment that anyone tries to assess them in money they softly and suddenly vanish away.”

Spiritual lives aren’t judged on bank accounts but on your heart.  There are no possessions that can value what’s in your heart and soul.

The Bible says this about greed:

“People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.  For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.  Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”
(1 Timothy 6:9-10)

Why Is Greed Deadly?

  1. Greed leads to idolatry. Possessing things aren’t bad, just when what you possess becomes your all in all. (Romans 1:24-25)
Peter Kreeft said, “(Greed) is not desire as such, or even desire for temporal possessions as such, but the immoderate desire for them; for it is natural for man to desire external things as means, but greed makes them into ends, into gods.  And when a creature is made into a god, it becomes a devil.”
  You can’t take your possessions with you. (Job 1:21)
  2. Greed erodes contentment. (Exodus 20:17) William Shakespeare said “Striving to better, oft we mar what’s well.”
  3. Greed tempts us with a false promise of security. Store up your treasures in Heaven. (Matthew 6:19-21,24)  There is no security in money, just in God.
  4. Greed tempts us with a false sense of self-sufficiency. Money does not buy happiness, peace or eternal life. (Matthew 19:23-24)
  5. Greed tempts us with false happiness. Happiness is temporal, fleeting, because it’s based on circumstance.  Peter Kreeft said, “Happiness can come only from being, not having.  Happiness is in the heart, the center of one’s being… Furthermore, we can possess only what is less than ourselves, things, objects.  However we are possessed by what is greater than ourselves—God and his attributes, Truth, Goodness, Beauty. This alone can make us happy, can satisfy the restless heart, can fill the infinite, God-shaped hole at the center of our being. [Greed] simply doesn’t work. It’s like trying to fill the Grand Canyon with marbles.”
  6. Greed is the cause of human conflict.  You want something but don’t get it.  (James 4:1-2)

Why are we susceptible to Greed?

  1. We live in a competitive culture and money, and the things money can buy, is how we keep score.
  2. We are saturated with advertising that appeals to our basic appetites and are inundated with a media that celebrates affluence and excess.
  3. We have transformed our whole economic system to run on the notion that a private evil (greed) can lead to public good (wealth and happiness).
  4. We have an economic system based on artificial wealth (paper money) and not one on natural wealth (land or precious metals).

Our system doesn’t have built-in checks on our greed.  The answer is to be merciful.  The merciful are generous, the greedy are not.


Mercy is not receiving what you do deserve, while grace is receiving what you don’t deserve.  Justice says punish.  Mercy says forgive.  How are the merciful blessed?

  • God dispenses mercy on the merciful in this life.
  It is more blessed to give then receive.
(Matthew 18:21-35, Acts 20:35)
  • Others dispense mercy on the merciful in this life.  We get what we give.  You sow what you reap. (Luke 16:1-13)
  • God will dispense mercy on the merciful in the life to come.

Greed has two parts: (1) getting what you don’t have, but want. (2) wanting to keep what you do have, and don’t want to give away.

The answer to greed:

  • Contentment.  Appreciate what you have.
 (Phil 4:11-13 and 1 Timothy 6:8-10)
  • Generosity.  Be a giver. (Acts 20:35, 2 Cor 9:7)

It’s not whether you possess things, it’s whether or not they possess you.  Possessions are nothing compared to knowing Christ.


Topic Description Date
Vices and Virtues – Greed and Mercy Greed is particularly dangerous because it is subtle in it excess and soft in it’s hardness.  It appeals in its desire for fairness in a twisted way. In Christian tradition, greed ranks above lust and just below pride as the all time spiritual villain.

What Is Greed?

Greed is an immoderate desire for ... [more]
Vices and Virtures – Pride and Humility

Pride and Humility

C.S. Lewis said, “There is one vice of which no man in the world is free; which every one in the world loathes when he sees it in someone else; and of which hardly any people, except Christians, ever imagine that they are guilty themselves. . . There is no fault which makes a man more u ... [more]
Vices and Virtues – Introduction Derrick begins a new series on Vices and Virtues. Over the next several weeks, Derrick will review the Seven Deadly Sins in conjunction with the eight Beatitudes.  The Beatitudes are humanly impossible to live out because of our sin nature.  They are a framework of what it means to “be.”  Our goal is to be more like Christ.  This study is a ... [more] 4/19/2010
The Resurrection of Jesus Christ In this message, Derrick finishes the glorious story of the Resurrection. It seemed death, darkness and evil had triumphed with the crucifixion of Jesus. But, it was only the beginning of a brand new story. The Resurrection is the laughter of heaven, a hilarious joke on evil and death. Rome may paint in cruelty and death, but God paints in g ... [more] 4/1/2010