DESPISING AND DEHUMANIZING
Read Matthew 6:24.
While greed appears to be a problem with materialism or making things too important, at heart it is really a people problem. Listen with new ears to what Jesus said about money: “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
Why can’t you serve both God and money? Not because there isn’t room in your life for two important things. We do that all the time, balancing multiple priorities. No, Jesus says you can’t serve both God and money because loving one will change your perception of the other. When you love money, you will start to hate God. So of course you won’t serve Him; He won’t seem worth it to you. You’ll hardly notice He’s there. That’s what it means to despise someone: to treat the person as if he or she isn’t even worth noticing. If greed is powerful enough to make us despise God, it is certainly enough to make us despise other mere mortals.
Here’s how it works. To begin with, we have the ability to see people as people, to respond to their needs, hopes, and fears as if they were our own. Greed, however, says, “Only focus on your own needs and wants, your own hopes and fears.” To do that, we have to shut other people out. We only see the ball, not the boy. People become objects to us—either tools we can use or obstacles to be moved out of our way, but certainly not human beings. And when we stop treating others as human, we stop being human ourselves. As Henri Nouwen wrote, “Every time I take a step in the direction of generosity, I know that I am moving from fear to love.”
Greed is another form of idolatry, and the Scriptures warn that those who idolize silver and gold eventually become just as inhuman as those cold, lifeless metals.
*Have you seen in yourself or in your kids a focus so centered on the object of desire, that you look past the person? Be on the lookout for this, and ask forgiveness when you recognize it.