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Have you ever noticed how your personality shifts when you are in the presence of greed?

Greed has many different faces and often slithers within the space of our EGO, the Edging God Out zone tucked away in the shadows of original sin. Greed is an intense selfish desire for more. Whether it be more knowledge, time, food, money, control, power, or passion, Jesus can relate to all of it, and He does so with profound compassion for the human condition: “… how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing” (Matthew 23:37).

Greed flows from a belief that God will not provide so therefore, I must provide for myself. Greed is what moved the Israelites to hoard the manna from heaven (Exodus 16) which ended up being consumed by maggots for fear that “what if” God does not provide it tomorrow? What are you hoarding in your life for fear that God will not provide for you tomorrow?

Greed comes from the deep primal part of the brain which is reactive and fueled by fear and doubt. It screams for more out of fear that what it already has will not be enough. Not-enoughness is running rampant in our culture today, killing our purpose, stealing our identity and destroying our peace: “The thief comes only to kill, steal and destroy, but I have come that you may have life and have it to the full” (John 10:10).

Interestingly enough, Luke 4 lays out four temptations that Jesus stood up against. Each one is fueled by some expression of greed:

  • Verse 3: “The devil said to him (Jesus), “If you are the Son of God tell this stone to become bread.” Jesus was fasting so it would have been very easy to feel the greed for food in spite of His commitment to prepare himself for His mission for our salvation. The temptation that flows from a strong emotion targeting towards something: Passion.
  • Verse 8: “The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. So, worship me, and it will be yours.” Notice how many times the word “I” and “me” is used by the devil. Greed is fueled by selfishness. Here we see Jesus being tempted by the greed for popularity and position.
  • Verse 9: The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here.” The devil was trying to tempt Jesus with the greed for power. “Go ahead, toss yourself into this, God said He will command His angels to watch over you.” The devil can’t create anything so he takes what’s already created and twists it in a way to make it appealing with a goal to deceive you away from God’s will. Notice how he takes a hit at Jesus identity several times: “If you are the Son of God.” He uses the same deception with us as he attempts to steal our identity into some trinket or shiny object. Stand firm and resist as Jesus modeled for us.

As you reflect on the above temptations of Jesus in the desert, where do you recognize yourself? Perhaps you’re wrestling with greed fueled by a passion for more of something: to be seen, acknowledged, recognized? God knows we desire these things; He also knows how to best meet those needs in a way that keeps our identity intact and grounded in Him. Perhaps you are experiencing a desire for a higher position or popularity? Or more power? Reflect on the following Scriptures from Isaiah 14:12-17 which showcase greed: the desire for more in all four areas: Passion, Popularity, Position and Power. Notice how many times the word “I” is referenced. The fall of Satan:

“How you have fallen from heaven,
morning star, son of the dawn!
You have been cast down to the earth,
you who once laid low the nations!
You said in your heart,
“I will ascend to the heavens;
I will raise my throne
above the stars of God;
I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly,
on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon.
I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.”
But you are brought down to the realm of the dead,
to the depths of the pit.”

“I will” is referenced five times by the devil. Greed is always fueled by self-focus; it is a crisis of faith. Allow the Holy Spirit to bump you back into the belief that God’s got your back. Begin with a simple prayer invitation:

Holy Spirit, come into my greed, reveal to me the areas in my leadership where I have replaced you with me: what I want, need, desire as well as what I feel I deserve. This type of thinking is all destined to parish with use as it has its roots in the very thing that cast Satan into the realm of the dead: pride. Save me from all aspects of greed in my life. Show me where I am wanting more, where I am doubting that you are the God who provides for all my needs. Your will be done in my life. Remind me of what my soul always knows: you will never leave me nor forsake me.

Learn more about Edging God Out by attending an Encounter workshop.

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