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Books for those in ministry organizations who desire to take their leadership, teams, governance, and ministry effectiveness to the next level.

21 Jul '14

Avarice

Posted by T.J. Addington
av·a·rice

Extreme greed for wealth or material gain

Whenever I used a word like this at our dinner table as my kids grew up they would say, "Dad, that is a big word." And it is a big word. In fact, it is one of the 7 deadly sins of the Catholic church.

Given the number of email notices I receive every day of lotteries I have won, inheritances I am named in and special deals where I can share in millions of profits I have to assume that there is a ready audience that is moved by avarice. (To my IT guru, Jason - how come this stuff gets through my spam filter?)

Those in Christian ministry are not immune to avarice. In fact, we often rub shoulders with those who may have much more than we do (ironically, no matter what our station in life there is always someone who has much more than we do so we might as well get over it). Entitlement is easy to nurture. After all we work hard, we have sacrificed much (our thinking), and we deserve (whatever it is).

Avarice is based on two false premises. The first is that life is about me. Why would I have greed for wealth or material gain except that I feel that life is somehow about me? The second is that material wealth is a source of happiness - the opposite of what we preach and intellectually know to be true. The wealthiest Christ followers I rub shoulders with know all too well that life is not about them which is why they are extremely generous with their wealth. They also know that wealth does not equal happiness. They have wealth but their happiness and joy comes from Jesus alone. Wealth cannot address any of the ultimate questions or challenges of life. In fact, the burden of wealth can create its own challenges.

The Apostle Paul ministered to people of wealth and influence as well as those who were poor and on the margins of society. He writes to the Philippians that "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength (Philippians 4:11-13)."

Notice that Paul twice uses the verb "learned." Eliminating avarice and becoming content is something that is not normal to our lives. It is the work of the Holy Spirit and it is a learned behavior. If Paul had to learn this we do as well.

Life is about Jesus and He is the ultimate provider. Don't allow avarice to cloud your happiness.