Adapted from an article by Marco Silva, posted September 3, 2017 at: http://www.desiringgod.org
Our craving for more has plagued us from the very beginning. Our first parents lusted after more when they trusted a talking snake and took forbidden fruit to satisfy their longing to be like God (Genesis 3:5). God brought his beloved people through the parted sea, but in less than two months Israel’s praise devolved into grumbling (Exodus 16:2-3). The prophet Amos decried the northern kingdom of Israel for their gluttonous appetite, which led them to “trample the head of the poor into the dust of the earth” (Amos 2:6-8). The Old Testament leaves us with no lack for examples of greed among God’s chosen people.
Greed’s deceit knows no economic boundaries. Rich, poor, or somewhere in between, most people are always wanting more. Indeed, “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils” (I Timothy 6:10). By thinking we have never have enough, we are forgetting the One who gave to us in the first place. Whatever the number of figures in your salary, we all tend to slide right past the midpoint of contentment into greed.
In the wealthy, 21st century West, it becomes easy to forget the Giver. The average American worker one-hundred years ago made about $687 a year, roughly the equivalent of $16,063 in the present day. Today’s full-time median income is $50,383. On average, we’re nearly three times as better off wage-wise than we were a century ago. Compared to most of the world, 71 percent of whom live on less than ten dollars a day, most Americans boast incredible wealth.
You might not think so when you pull up your account balances, but the average man or woman in the land of the free is exceedingly rich. And because of our affluence, we must remain all-the-more vigilant. John Piper explains, Jesus never said, “It’s hard for a person in Darfur to get into the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus just said, “It’s hard for a rich man to get into the kingdom of heaven;” so the most dangerous place to raise a family is America.
We may never really believe it, but our seemingly safe streets dotted, with single-family homes, can be far more dangerous spiritually than a war-torn, famine-stricken land. There, sin’s destruction reigns obvious in violence and hunger. But here, the wealth that masquerades as God’s undeniable favor can turn into a barrier, not a blessing. A craving for more, intensified by our exceptional means, can lead many away from the faith (I Timothy 6:10).
Of course, reaping the fruits of a harvest God has graciously provided is no sin — as long as we realize that we’re just stewards at every step. Whatever we have, we’ve received (I Corinthians 4:7). When we acknowledge that every good gift comes to us from our generous Father (James 1:17), gratitude smothers our desire for more, and grace begins to loosen greed’s icy grip. When I’m tempted to complain about the high mileage on our family’s minivan, I can give thanks that I have an opportunity to transport the five of us safely and conveniently whenever I need to. Instead of griping about the limited square-footage of our apartment, I can be glad that we not only have shelter that protects us, but a place to call home.
When I whine for more, I align myself with evil. But when I give thanks, I lock onto the very will of God (I Thessalonians 5:18). And in God’s curious kindness, when we praise him for all that he is for us, he gives us the best gift anyone could ask for: more of himself.
So, in the end, more stuff, more money, and even more time can never satisfy. But in Jesus, God gives us more than we could have ever bargained for. When we invest in contenting our souls in him, he pays unimaginable dividends in the currency of eternity.
A song about wanting more, more, and more Money, Money, Money (Abba, 1976):
I Timothy 6:6-12a — Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 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. But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called.
James 1:17 — Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
Prayer in Proverbs 30:7-9:
Two things I ask of you, Lord;
do not refuse me before I die:
Keep falsehood and lies far from me;
give me neither poverty nor riches,
but give me only my daily bread.
Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’
Or I may become poor and steal,
and so dishonor the name of my God.