Seven | From Greed to Generosity
Corey Widmer on Proverbs 28:25 & 1 Tim 6:6-10, 17-19
The writer Craig Blomberg writes, “The greatest danger to Western Christianity is not Marxism, Islam, New Age, Secularism or Humanism, but the all pervasive materialism of our affluent culture.” Whether or not you agree with him, it is hard to deny the power of money over our lives. Money itself is not evil; it is the unhealthy and disproportionate desire for it that ultimately controls and distorts us. Some of us accumulate money and possessions for greater security. Others of us accumulate to display our importance. But all of us have some kind of unhealthy relationship to money, whether we have much of it or little. Jesus invites us to experience freedom from the control money has over our lives, to be liberated from greed, and to rightly order our relationship to our possessions. Only then can we become like him, generously using what we have and are for the sake of love.
Our image for the week is Bosch's depiction of Greed (Avaricia in Latin), which features a man of apparent wealth and influence seated at the center of the scene. It is likely he is a judge or magistrate, given the staff of authority he holds, the open book in front of him, and the second pair of men seated at the left, consulting over a legal document or contract of some sort, apparently waiting for his advice or ruling. However, the central drama revolves around this judge and the two men on either side of him. The man at left, in blue, is speaking intently with the judge, his hat and money-bag in hand. He seems to be a man of means petitioning the judge with cash as well as words. Meanwhile, the judge secretly holds out a hand behind his back to receive a bribe from a rather less-wealthy man behind him, who may be the other party in the dispute. The judge's money bag is open on his belt, and Bosch seems to have made a visual pun in the similarity between the bag and the Judge's hat, as if to say that what fills one, fills the other: personal enrichment at everyone else's expense, rather than a sense of truth or fairness, much less justice.
To see and read more about the entire Table from which this detail comes, click HERE.
“The greedy stir up conflict, but those who trust in the Lord will prosper.”
19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.
21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 22 The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! 24 No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. 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?”
About the Series
“Seven | Finding Freedom from the Darkness Within” is a Lenten sermon series on Pride, Envy, Anger, Sloth, Greed, Gluttony and Lust, known for nearly 1500 year as “the Seven Deadly Sins.” A couple of factors make this traditional accounting of sins “deadly.” One is that our society has tended to glamorize these sins and even made them into virtues; another is how unspectacular they are. These are incredibly ordinary, pervasive propensities that are so rooted in our nature that we tend to not even notice them. Or if we do, we may rationalize them, such as calling greed “healthy ambition” or gluttony “a deserved reward.” These sins are the roots of so many other distortions that prevent us from living as the people Jesus died to make us become. In focusing on these sins during the season of Lent, we are inviting Jesus to do some surgery on our souls, asking him—together—what darkness may be hiding in our hearts that we may be ignoring or rationalizing, and opening ourselves up to his transforming love.
For a full description of the series, including week to week schedules, click HERE.
STUDY GUIDES for this sermon will be available on Sunday afternoon, with audio being added on Tuesday morning, both found by clicking the banner image for the sermon on the homepage. We encourage all small groups to use these resources to foster self-examination in community in addition to privately, and as a way for our whole church to be participating in this season of preparation together.
Join the Conversation
Looking beyond our walls, our sister congregations, Christ Presbyterian and City Church, are joining us in this series on the Seven Deadly Sins, partners with us in repentance and renewal, as well as in sharing the gospel.
Pastors Corey Widmer, Kevin Germer, and Erik Bonkovsky are hosting a collaborative blog where they and readers can contribute additional thoughts and responses to the scriptures and sermons we'll hear during lent. If you'd like to join that conversation, click below.