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Posted: September 6, 2012 6:37 p.m.

Dees: How greed can overcome you

Jesus once said to his disciples, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions" (Luke 12:15 NIV). This is an interesting warning to be aware of, or to watch out for greed. It is as if Jesus is saying that greed can overcome you without you even being aware.

The interesting thing about greed is that it is a sin that is very easy to be guilty of, without you even knowing it. If you are a thief, you may not feel bad about stealing, you may be able to justify your actions, but you know what you are doing. If you are committing adultery, again you may have justified that sin in your mind, but you aren't unaware of it. Greed is different. I don't know anyone who thinks they are greedy. In fact, as a pastor, people will come to me from time to time to talk about their sins.

People will say, "I have a problem with anger," or "lust," or even "pride," but no one has ever said to me, "I have a problem with greed."

In Jesus' sermon on the mount he tells his disciples that where their treasure is, their heart will be also. (Matthew 6:21) He then gives his disciples a very peculiar warning about being blind in verses 22 and 23, before warning them again about greed saying, "You cannot serve God and money" (verse 24). Jesus is telling his disciples that greed is the sin that makes people blind.

None of us have been intentionally greedy. We don't sit around and say, "How can I take advantage of people today?" or, "What can I buy for myself that I don't need?" But we are all greedy because we are all more inclined to think about the things that we don't have than we are to think about those things that we do have. Whenever I buy something that I don't need, I can justify it by saying to myself, "Well so and so has something even nicer than this." In those moments I am not quick to think about the poor or the billions of people in this world who literally have nothing.

If you are an American earning at least a minimum wage income, you are one of the wealthiest people in the world. I want to encourage you to heed the words of Jesus and to "watch out for all kinds of greed." It is so easy to be blind to our greed, so please take these three suggestions for fighting this hidden sin. First, confess your greed to the Lord in prayer, and ask the Lord to set you free from the sin of greed. Ask the Lord to make you aware of your greed and to show you when and how you are greedy.

Secondly, seek accountability. Find some trustworthy people in your life and ask them if there are any areas of greed in your life. Have you spent too much money on a house or a car? How does your buying for yourself compare with your giving to others? Thirdly, and finally, set some minimum markers for generosity. I believe that any person who isn't giving away at least 10 percent of their income is greedy. God set the tithe in place to be a marker. It isn't a rule for those who have been set free from the law in Christ but it is a great guideline.

Jason Dees is a grateful follower of Jesus Christ, the husband of Paige and the father of Emery Anna. He is also the senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Covington.

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