My dog Roscoe can get pretty greedy! He doesn’t want his biscuits, but he won’t let his doggy buddy, Beau, have them either! He stands over them, growling, when Beau comes near.
He’ll leave his stuffed dragon totally alone until I pick it up. Then he barks like crazy until I give it to him. “That’s mine!” he’s saying.
Or if I approach him when he has “Dino,” Roscoe gives me a low growl and a firm “You can’t have it” look. I keep trying to teach him, but this dog still doesn’t understand the word “share.”
On the human level, I think greed and discontent are often linked. I read about two friends, Mick and Ron, who met on the street. Mick looked sad, almost on the verge of tears.
“Hey, friend,” Ron said, “why do you look like the whole world caved in?”
Mick said, “Well, I’ll tell you. Three weeks ago, my uncle died and left me $50,000.”
“What? That’s not bad at all!” Ron said.
“Hold on. I’m just getting started,” Mick said. “Two weeks ago, a cousin I’ve never met kicked the bucket and left me $95,000, tax free.”
“Well, that’s great,” Ron said. “I’d like that.”
“And last week my grandfather passed away,” Mick said. “I inherited almost a million.”
“Mick! You’re kidding,” Ron said. “Why on earth are you so sad?”
Mick sighed. “This week? Nothing!” *
If we’re not content, we’re always wanting more. If we’ve learned to practice contentment, we can be satisfied with what we have.
I’m not talking about the dissatisfaction with ourselves that drives us to grow and make progress. I’m taking about the constant nag in our spirit to have more stuff! More money! A bigger and better anything!
The root of greed and discontent comes in believing we own anything in the first place. All things really belong to the Lord.
Psalm 24:1 (HCSB) says,
“The earth and everything in it, the world and its inhabitants, belong to the Lord.”
But if we think it all belongs to us, we’ll have the tendency to hold back when God asks to use something we have . . . or to give it up to Him entirely. Like my dog Roscoe, we may–even though we don’t acknowledge this–turn to God and say, “You can’t have it.”
Oh, how we need to learn God-focused contentment.
- We need to learn to give thanks to God for what we already have (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
- We need to trust God for what we need and see the “great gain” in a godly life–to rest in His providence and provision (1 Timothy 6:6). He will never leave us and we can trust Him for our needs.
- We need to see circumstances from God’s perspective–both gain and loss (Philippians 3:7-8; 2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
- We need to dwell less on ourselves and think more about the needs of others that God might want us to meet (Proverbs 11:24-25; Luke 6:38; Philippians 2:3-4; 2 Corinthians 9:6).
Greed and discontent arise from a self-centered heart, but when we focus on what God wants and others’ needs, we can learn to rise above the “you can’t have it” mentality.
When do you see greed or discontent rise up in your life? In your home? Your church? What can you do to change that?
* Adapted, “Never Satisfied,” http://jokes.christiansunite.com/Greed/Never_Satisfied.shtml