Filling The Hollow Eyes Of Greed

God created us to possess. He wants us to have things, and he wants us to want things. The first words to man in history had to do with his possession of the entire earth. In his Law God protects each person’s possessions with sanctions against stealing or even damaging things borrowed. God made men like Abraham and Solomon very wealthy. He gave the riches of Egypt to his people on their way out. God promised his people that they would possess the land of Canaan and, eventually, each man would dwell under his vine and under his fig tree (cf. 1Kg 4.25). Our God is far from being a God who wants us to dwell in eternal poverty. He has promised us, the seed of Abraham, the entire world as our inheritance (cf. Rom 4.13).

To desire to possess is a God-given, God-imaging quality. But as with other righteous desires, the sin that dwells in us takes the God given desire to possess and distorts it. The resultant perverted love is Greed. Greed is a thirst to possess, but it is an insatiable thirst. Greed is never satisfied. It has hollow eyes that are never filled. It is a fire that is fed by possessions, consuming everything it takes in without ever dousing the flames into a state of contentment.

Greed is possessed by possessing. Greed has idolized the creation (Col 3.5). It seeks life from the creation apart from the Creator, continually spiraling into greater and greater death. “Surely this next thing I lay hold of will satisfy me.” Greed runs from gadget to gadget, name brand to name brand, in order to find contentment. However, when it has a firm grasp on that thing, it somehow finds its hand and heart still empty. These things in themselves can never satisfy. 

Greed has one hand that holds tightly and another hand that is prodigal. These hands work in concert with one another in the mission of Greed. The tight-fisted miser won’t let go of anything, afraid that if he is generous he will lose his security. He is the Ebenezer Scrooge that sits at his table and constantly counts his money to make certain it is all there, shutting other people out of his life, suspicious that they will want something from him. He may live with great food and drink in a lovely house, but it is a banquet in hell for he is lonely, refusing to share his life with anyone. 

The prodigal hand of Greed is not only loose-fisted with what he has, he is willing to take and borrow in order to satisfy his cravings. He is the American with the credit card going to the mall to buy things to fill his hollow heart. He buries himself in debt but remains discontent. The prodigal will spend all that he has on parties and possessions, yet his hunger is never sated. 

Greed can never be satisfied. If it could, Greed would be fighting against itself and its mission. A house divided cannot stand. The mission of Greed is to starve us to death. 

As believers we are called to mortify this sin in our bodies. We are to take up weapons against it and continue to fight it, putting it to death on a daily basis. One of the weapons we use against this enemy of Greed is disciplined mercy. As a desire, Greed can be overwhelming, consuming our thoughts, driving us to consume more. To fight this desire we must purpose to show mercy to others with our possessions. Greed may kick and scream within us. That’s good. You’re doing something right when it does. Loosening the tight fist of Greed in sharing with others is a weapon against the monster. Redirecting our prodigality away from seeking things to consume only upon ourselves and being generous toward others will beat back the enemy.

Another weapon against our enemy of Greed is contentment. Contentment is the ability to say, “Thank you. I have enough.” Contentment can relax and enjoy what one has. Can you sit at the end of a day without your mind racing in anxiety, being frustrated, or being depressed concerning what you don’t possess? If you can, then you are content. Contentment is learned through the discipline of giving thanks in all the situations of your life. You receive what God has given you, and you can be satisfied. You may still aspire to have more, but at this time you are happy with your station in life. Contentment is freedom. While Greed promises great gain, godliness with contentment is great gain (1Tim 6.6).

Let us then be vigilant daily to guard our hearts from this deadly enemy of Greed by cultivating mercy and contentment.