The Many Species of Greed: Entitlement

Do you tend to be greedy?  

Jesus said in Luke 12:15, “Watch out!  Be on your guard against all kinds of greed”.

All kinds.  Interesting.  It’s like greed has many different ways of coming out of us.  So, before you say “No, I don’t think I’m greedy”, consider the possibility you may be greedy in one way or another.  In this passage Jesus mentions 3 different ways a person can show they’re greedy.  Today we look at the first one:  entitlement.

Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”  Jesus said, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?”  Then he said to them [the crowd], “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 12:13-15)

Entitlement.  “I have a right to it!”  This guy’s greed is driven by his sense of injustice.  Now, we can understand why he’s upset – his own flesh and blood is not sharing with him.  In that day a firstborn would receive a double portion of the inheritance compared to the other siblings.  He may have thought his brother should split it evenly.  Maybe the guy was in debt and this extra money would help.  Who knows.  It boils down to the same point:  he feels cheated and he feels entitled to more.

Do you ever notice how we get obsessive in our anger?  This guy wasn’t going to let it go.  Its all he could think about and it was ruining his life.  If he didn’t tie his life and happiness to that bigger share he wouldn’t be so miserable.  But he’s being treated unfairly and someone owes him.  He’s completely preoccupied with what he’s got coming to him and he won’t rest or be happy until he gets what rightfully his.  Forget family get together’s.  He’s done with that brother of his.  His sense of entitlement is controlling him.

Its a certain kind of greed.   “Be on your guard against all kinds of greed”

We Christians are not to be controlled by a sense of entitlement.  Philippians 4:5 says, “Let your gentleness be evident to all”.  The word for gentleness literally means you don’t demand your rights.  Whatever is owed to you, if because of unfairness you don’t get it, you don’t throw a temper.  You graciously accept the unfairness and move on without becoming bitter.  Why?  Because you’re not worried about your needs being met.  Because you know what Jesus is talking about in Luke 12.  You know God provides for the sparrows so certainly He would provide for you who are worth more to Him than many sparrows (v6-7).  You know your life is in Christ not in possessions (v15).  You know life’s daily necessities are provided by God and worry is not an issue (v22-34).  You even know you can’t serve God and be obsessed with money at the same time (Matthew 6:24).

Bottom line:  you know your needs are secure with God and so you are emotionally free to serve Him without such distractions like worrying.  That’s why Jesus moves the conversation to serving Him for the last half of Luke 12.  He wants us to focus on giving ourselves to Him not what we should be getting from others.  So He teaches us to focus on what we get from God and not what we think we should be getting from others.

So, watch out for the many faces of greed.  Any of us can get tripped up if we’re not careful.  Let us trust God and not worry about what should be ours.  We have Christ given freely and totally to us.  What else could we possibly want?  Paul nudged us with that question when he said,

“But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.  What is more I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.  I consider them rubbish that I may gain Christ”  (Philippians 3:7-8)


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