Sunday, January 1, 2017

Greed Always Hurts the Innocent

Since the first days on earth humanity has been plagued with the danger of greed. Adam and Eve expressed their greed when they ate the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, because they were convinced they deserved something that God had told them was bad for them. Their children, beginning with Cain and Abel were born into a harsh life of struggle and pain because of the greed of their parents. It was because of greed our ancestors constructed the Tower of Babel to “reach to heaven; and let us make a name for ourselves.” (Genesis 11.4) It was because of greed that Abram took Hagar to bear children rather than Sarah. They disobeyed God’s desire and the innocent child of Hagar was forced to flee for their safety. Around Christmas each year we hear of another horrific example of greed. It was because of greed that Herod slaughtered over 14,000 innocent children in an attempt to kill the newborn Christ. Throughout the centuries greed has been at the center of every political conflict between nations and tribes, and the innocent always suffer. And today the world continues to its assault upon children in the name “reproductive freedom” by aborting hundreds of thousands of innocent children each year.

This week the Lord gives us a fresh chance at a better way. While Herod was trying to trick the Magi into revealing where Christ was to be found, the angels of God instructed the shepherds to go home a different way. The shepherds were rewarded for their love and obedience to God and they returned home “glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen.” (Luke 2.20) The shepherds revealed their humility rather than greed. It was because of their humility that Herod was unable to kill Jesus as an infant, and His Mother and Joseph were able to bring Him to the Temple on the Eighth Day according to the Law to be circumcised and receive the name “Jesus” as was commanded by God. It was because of humility that Mary and Joseph “returned to Jerusalem, seeking Him,” (Luke 2.46) because they had left Him behind at Passover. Humility always brings comfort. It is the opposite of greed.

The past two weeks have been filled with opportunities to expresses either greed or humility. Constant advertisements and sales attempt to feed greed and convince you to purchase more gifts and spend more money than you have. Some families spend so much on Christmas they struggle to pay regular utility bills. It is because of greed that Christmas drives many into depression and loneliness. Every time we want more of something we do not have, even if that “something” is a good thing, we risk the danger of greed. How do we attempt to recover from Christmas greed? We pack into the mall for the ‘after Christmas sales’ and return lines to exchange the gift we received for the gift we ‘really wanted’ in the first place, never thinking how the feelings of the person who gave us the gift in the first place might feel if we rejected their gift.

The gift of Christmas isn’t under a decorated tree. The gift of Christmas is God Himself, Who came to be one of us so that we could be freed from the constant battle between greed and humility. The gift of Christmas is freedom from sales and special offers at department stores. The gift of Christmas is a life lived in unity with God as He originally intended. But the only way we can receive the gift is to choose humility rather than greed. Greed, just like it has for centuries before, will always lead us away from God’s desire for us. Greed will always bring pain and suffering the innocent lives that surround us.

Today is New Year’s Day, the day we all make ‘resolutions’ to live better lives. This year we can resolve to live humble lives rather than suffer through greed. This year can be different. As Jesus said to Mary and Joseph, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” (Luke 2.49) His Father’s business is our freedom from sin and greed. This year should be the year we are also about the Father’s business.

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