[anzac] Is GREED ONLY AN ATTITUDE? - Brother David

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From: "REVIVAL List" <revival_list@...>
Date: Thu, 10 Aug 2006 16:26:45 -0500
Is GREED ONLY AN ATTITUDE?
-by Brother David.

"I'm glad God looks at the heart and not the bank account,
otherwise, a lot of us Christians would be bound for hell." --- A
recent comment on a Christian discussion board

That quotation represents a very commonly-held belief among
professing Christians that greed is only an attitude of the heart
that has nothing to do with one's outward actions. This belief is
expressed in common sayings such as, "God is not opposed to
our having possessions as long as our possessions don't have us"
or, "The Lord doesn't mind what we own as long as He has our
hearts." Thus we need not be concerned about how much we
possess as long as we don't allow greed into our hearts.

Is this line of reasoning supported by Scripture? No, it actually
stands in direct contradiction to what Jesus said. He commanded
all of His followers:

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth
and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store
up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor
rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for
where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matt 6:19-21).

"SELL YOUR POSSESSIONS and give to charity; make yourselves
money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven,
where no thief comes near nor moth destroys. For WHERE YOUR
TREASURE IS, there your heart will be also" (Luke 12:33-34).

Jesus could not have stated it more clearly. Where we put our
treasures, either in heaven or on earth, reveals where our hearts
are. Our actions reveal what is in our hearts. So it is simply not
true that God looks only at our hearts and not at our bank
accounts. Rather, when He looks at our bank accounts (and at
everything else we possess) He knows what is in our hearts. We
may fool ourselves, but we can't fool Him.

Simple and honest logic alone should be enough to convince us
that our actions reveal our hearts. What would we think of the
person who, as he stabs a knife into his victim's back, says, "I
really don't hate this person. Inwardly I'm full of love." Or how
about a person whose house is stacked to the ceiling with
pornographic magazines and who says, "These magazines mean
nothing to me. Inwardly I'm pure"? Or how about a drunk person
who says with a slur, "Inwardly I'm sober"? Surely in every case
we would consider these people to be sadly self-deceived. Their
actions reveal their hearts while their words reveal their self-
deception. Then why do we fool ourselves about our possessions
and say, "All of these possessions mean nothing to me"? If they
mean nothing, why have we given our lives for them? Why are we
clinging to them? Why are we ignoring what Jesus said regarding them?

Greed is indeed an attitude of the heart, but one that is always
expressed by outward actions. We all know and believe that. If
you put three cookies on a plate before your three children, and
Billy grabs all three, do you say, "Billy, go ahead and eat all three
cookies...just don't allow greed into your heart"? No, Billy's actions
reveal the greed in his heart. Greed is selfishness as it relates to
material things. We all intuitively know that greed has something
to do with obeying the second greatest commandment, to love
our neighbors as ourselves.

In light of all this, consider the common Christian cliche', "It doesn't
matter what you possess as long as you hold it loosely." That is,
of course, doublespeak, a declaration that it is OK to be unwilling
to give as long as you are willing to give. An unwilling willingness!
The one who is holding something loosely is still holding it. His
treasure is still on the earth. His actions reveal his heart.

"Holding one's possessions loosely" is akin to the idea of "mental
relinquishment," something that in many peoples' minds fulfills
Christ's commandments regarding dispossession. They have given
all their possessions to Christ "in their hearts" while giving up
nothing in reality. So all that they now own supposedly belongs to
Jesus - even though it is just as much in their possession as it
was before they "gave it all to Jesus." This is utter self-deception.
It would be interesting to see what would happen if I used that
method of relinquishment when paying my taxes. When the IRS
comes knocking at my door, I'll just say, "I've mentally paid my
taxes, and in my heart I've given you all that I owe you." I suspect
the IRS would know that my actual failure to pay my taxes is a
sure indication that in my heart I don't want to pay my taxes.
God is no dummy either.

Another form of this same self-deception is found in the justification,
"If the Lord told me to give away any of my possessions, I would
do it in a second." Such a person imagines that his heart is right
and that he is willing to relinquish anything that the Lord would
require of him. Yet, as we just read from Luke 12:33-34, Jesus
has commanded all of His disciples to sell their possessions, give
to charity and lay up treasure in heaven. So this person who
imagines he is so willing to give up his possessions proves that
he is unwilling by his ignoring Christ's clear commandment. It
could be said that he is doubly-deceived, as he imagines that
what Christ required of all of His disciples is not required of him,
and he imagines if it ever was, he would surely obey .

One final form of the same self-deception is the altercation of
Jesus' commandment from, "Do not lay up treasures on earth" to,
"Do not to treasure your earthly possessions." Once again, greed
becomes only an attitude - the "treasuring" of our possessions -
so we need not actually give up anything.

Jesus, however, did not say, "Do not treasure what you possess,"
calling us to adjust only our attitudes. He spoke of actually doing
something with our possessions - selling them in order to lay them
up in heaven rather than on earth. Moreover, adjusting only our
attitudes about our possessions will not prevent thieves from
stealing them or rust from consuming them. Only by giving up our
possessions and laying them up in heaven do we prevent their
inevitable demise.

So let us not be deceived. We must ask ourselves this question:
"How have I obeyed Christ's commandment to sell my possessions
and give to charity?" And certainly this initial relinquishment implies
a continued stewardship that is characterized by less acquiring
and more giving. Our obedience to Christ's commandment would
be annulled by re-acquiring what we sold. So we must ask
ourselves another question: "Now that I have sold what is not
necessary and given the proceeds to charity, how have I been
able to increase my giving to charity by acquiring fewer (if any)
possessions?".....

Is your heart in heaven or on earth? The answer is found where
your treasures are stored.

[To read an in-depth book about biblical stewardship by Brother
David, go to this site-  http://www.shepherdserve.org/ttne/ttne_intro.htm ]

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