Freedom Series Part 1: Freed From Greed
This week I’m continuing the Freedom Series that I started last week. In the series intro I discussed how recovering your sight to the way God sees you will help you see things clearly and put you in a good position to move forward without all the heavy burdens weighing you down. This blog will focus on the topics of setting people free from greed and striving.
For me the striving part has been one of the hardest to overcome. I think many people struggle with this as it’s our default setting to revert back to trusting in our own ability. Plus we’re inundated with messaging about what I call the world’s religion which is “hard work”. Just so I’m clear, I don’t think there anything wrong with working hard, however it can easily get to the point where we put our trust in our hard work and not God and that is a problem.
The Root Of All Evil
To illustrate how big of a problem greed is, let’s look at 1 Timothy 6:10:
“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.” NIV
And in the Message version it says:
“But if it’s only money these leaders are after, they’ll self-destruct in no time. Lust for money brings trouble and nothing but trouble. Going down that path, some lose their footing in the faith completely and live to regret it bitterly ever after.” MSG
Notice it’s not money itself that is the problem…it’s the love or lust of it that is. My friend Jermeine gave me a great analogy for money before. He said money can be compared to a knife. You can use a knife to stab somebody in the back or you can use it to cut up some food for the poor. The knife is a just a tool. Similarly, money is a just a tool. It’s the people who are using the tool and their beliefs that cause the tool to be used for good or bad.
All In Vain: Lessons From Soloman
If you need some more convincing, look at the life of Soloman and a book in the Bible he wrote called Ecclesiastes. Soloman would still be the richest person in the world today with all the wealth he had and it wouldn’t even be close. Yes, more money than Bill Gates and Warren Buffet and all those guys that you hear so much about. His salary was 760 million a year for being king and he was king for 40 years. That’s 30 billion right there, plus all of his assets which a few accounts I read estimated his net worth would have been around 100 billion.
Soloman started out well. In the account of God appearing before him which can be found in 2 Chronicles chapter 1 we see God says to ask him for anything. Rather than asking for money or material things, Soloman asks for wisdom and knowledge to lead the people he ruled over. That was smart, however it’s apparent that Soloman strayed from that wisdom as he started worshipping idols later in his reign. He ended up having over 700 wives and 300 concubines. At the end of Ecclesiastes Soloman basically says all of those things is not where it’s at and to seek God.
Freed From Greed
Knowing that you should not lust after money is only part of the battle. If you’re going to decide to turn the other way (repent) from that belief, you need to be convinced that what you are turning to is going satisfy your needs and/or set you free from things that you think you need that you really don’t. You need to be persuaded not only that God knows your needs, but that He is willing and able to provide for you. For that, look no further that Matthew Chapter 6. These are some of the best scriptures in the Bible about God and His desire to provide for you:
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
So here we see God’s basis for our provision is our worth to him. Your worth to Him is fixed in who you are, not what you do. Just like you being the son or daughter of your parents. Is there anything you did to be the son or daughter of your parents? No, you just are. That’s the way you were made.
Another example of God’s desire to give to you is when you see how grandparents give to their grandchildren. Ice cream for breakfast? Sure no problem. Can you imagine a good grandparent basing their desire to give on what their grandchildren do for them? Their desire to give to them is purely out of love for them and a desire to bless them. There is nothing they can do to change that. Now, if God cares for the birds like that, how much more will He care for you His prized creation?
A Poverty Mindset
Some people might think that since they have money, they don’t have a problem with greed or the love of money. Actually, people who are poor are not the only one’s who struggle with greed and a poverty mindset. Even billionaire’s can have a poverty mindset if their focus is on what they don’t have.
The difference between a poverty and wealthy mindset is knowledge of what you already have. Wealth is not how much you have at any given point, it’s how much you have access to. When you’re focus is on the God who paves His streets with gold, feeds the five thousand with five fish, turns water into wine, etc. and His desire to provide for you, your mind can go to rest. You can find contentment with all that you already have and not worry about other things because you trust that God will provide all you need. Then you can go back to walking in the cool of the day with God and be set free from thinking that you have to hoard everything, provide for yourself, etc.Wealth is not how much you have at any given point, it’s how much you have access to. Click To Tweet
I remember when Beyonce was pregnant and people were talking about how lucky that kid will be. The baby was girl and they named her Blue. Let’s say for example Blue wants to get bike pretty soon. If she asks her parents for a bike and they say she can have it, do you think she would worry about getting the bike? Do you think she would be asking her parents every hour on the hour for that bike? This is an example of the contentment we can have when we trust and rest that He will provide for us at the appropriate time. I know people think Beyonce and Jay-Z have an infinite amount of money but trust me, God has infinitely more.
Letting Grace Reign Through Righteousness
The opposite of trusting God is to trust in your own ability. The symbol I’ve seen used for this is that of a closed fist. When you are gritting everything out in your own power, you have a closed fist which hinders your ability to receive. It’s doesn’t change God’s desire to give to you, but you won’t be able to receive His provision. The way to reign in your finances (and in life in general) is to receive from God. You’ll save yourself a lot of trouble and frustration.The way to reign in your finances (& in life in general) is to receive from God. Click To Tweet
This lines up with what scripture says in Romans 5:17:
“For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!” NIV
There is a lot in that scripture but if you reverse engineer it, we see that we can reign in life through grace and the free gift of righteousness that we have been given in Christ, if we will merely accept it. In other words, when we humble ourselves and receive Christ as our savior and not our own works, etc. then righteousness comes with that and through the righteousness we can reign in every area of life.
The Lord Is My Shepherd. I Shall Not Lack.
It’s like our ability is on one side of the spectrum and God’s ability is on the other. If we accept the free gift God is trying to give us, we will see our life line up with God’s through no effort on our part. It’s a beautiful thing. This will free us up to live life out of the desires of our hearts and not the lie of lack. If we think we lack, then we will naturally try to find ways to go and get those things. This is why I love Psalm 23 and verses 1-2 especially which says:
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not lack. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters.” NIV
Sheep are notoriously nervous animals. They don’t really have anything to protect themselves with, so they won’t lie down or relax unless they know they are taken care of. In these scriptures, David is giving us a picture of the way God takes care of us. He is trustworthy and when we know that, we can relax.
Knowing about God’s provision frees us up to not only do what our heart desires but give where our heart desires as well. Many times we may want to give to others but think twice about it because we’re not sure if we can afford it. This doesn’t mean you just throw all your money away, but it does liberate you from a mindset that says you have to save every single dollar or take from others in order to ensure you have all that you need.
A Word For Ministers
Unfortunately, many ministers are the ones who struggle with greed the most. This is a major turn off for a lot of people and I don’t blame them. Televangelists have a bad reputation concerning money and as a result I hear people say things like, well all those guys want is your money. I’ve personally sat through some messages about giving that lasted almost 30 minutes. That was just the offering message, not the main sermon. What do you think somebody like that is trusting in for their finances, God or their ability to preach a message that guilts people into giving? Who do you think will get the glory when whatever money comes in?
If you are minister or are thinking about becoming one, I beg you to get with God about your finances and ask Him for a revelation of His heart towards you in this area. Our people look to us for guidance and it’s a horrible example when you beg and plead and make people feel condemned if they don’t give. Certainly give those who are willing an opportunity to give, but there is no need to go on and on and on and make it all about the money. Trust that God will work on the people’s hearts to bring forth the money you need.
There is no better thing for a minister than to see the life of God born in somebody. If that is not your motivation then I would highly recommend considering a different route.
Hope this information has helped. I know finances can be a touchy subject, but I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have. Thanks for stopping by. God bless.