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THE DAMAGE PEOPLE DO IN THEIR GREED

A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS

6 AUGUST 1995

By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES:

Psalms 49:1-12
Ecclesiastes 1:12-14
                2:18-23
1Timothy 6:17-19

Not too long ago we touched on the subject of greed.

This is a human characteristic that misuses the wealth the Lord has given.

Money and wealth are not evil in themselves, for they can be used to do many good things, as we all know.

But, when we begin to worship wealth and our pursuit of it, then it becomes a sin; and unfortunately, most people fall into this category.

Listen to what we are told in Psalms 49:1-12:

1. Hear this, all peoples;

Give ear, all inhabitants of the world,

2. Both low and high,

Rich and poor together.

No one is exempt from his or her responsibility of listening to the word of the Lord.

Many people think they are above such things, but they're very much mistaken, for they will lose everything in the end.

3. My mouth will speak wisdom;

And the meditation of my heart will be understanding.

4. I will incline my ear to a proverb;

I will express my riddle on the harp.

Now if we live this way, seeking the wisdom and understanding of the Lord, we will gain everything.

5. Why should I fear in days of adversity,

When the iniquity of my foes surrounds me,

6. Even those who trust in their wealth,

And boast in the abundance of their riches?

7. No man can by any means redeem his brother,

Or give to God a ransom for him--

8. For the redemption of his soul is costly,

And he should cease trying forever--

9. That he should live on eternally;

That he should not undergo decay.

We cannot buy or earn our way into heaven; it is a free gift of God to all who believe and seek Him.

But those who are greedy know the truth, even if they deny it.

10. For he sees that even wise men die;

The stupid and the senseless alike perish,

And leave their wealth to others.

No one can take their physical wealth with them when they die; it always goes to others.

11. Their inner thought is, that their houses are forever,

And their dwelling places to all generations;

They have called their lands after their own names.

These kinds of people always want to be recognized for their deeds.

The humble do their good deeds anonymously.

12. But man in his pomp will not endure;

He is like the beasts that perish.

"He is like the beasts that perish."-- A very interesting concept.

Let me give you a couple of modern-day examples.

Have you heard that some chicken eggs are contaminated with salmonella bacteria, which can cause serious abdominal problems, and even death?

The odds are that every week two people here in Athens will get sick with “stomach flu” or “intestinal flu,which is a way of hiding from the truth that all such "flu" is really food poisoning.

God didn't make eggs this way; greedy people did.

It started only recently when some greedy factory farmers realized that a lot of the nutrition they were feeding their chickens was coming back out in their stool.

So, do you know what they did?

That's right!

They mixed the chicken poop in with the feed and fed it back to the chickens.

Thus, the chickens now have salmonella in their intestines, and some of it migrates to the reproductive system and gets into the eggs before the shell is formed.

Now, to keep this in perspective, all chickens eat some of their feces as they peck for food on the ground; but those droppings are exposed to the air and sun, unlike the huge piles that are produced on these factory farms, in which the harmful bacteria grow.

Greedy factory farmers in England did something that is far more insidious.

They saw all the wasted sheep and bovine innards and brains that were left over after they were slaughtered, so they looked for a way to make more money.

What they did was to mix the sheep and cattle offal into cattle feed and feed it to dairy and beef cattle.

A practice that has been going on in the United States, too.

Now remember that these animals are herbivores; they eat no flesh.

Their digestive system has no way of eliminating the toxins from flesh; thus they became contaminated with an infectious prion, which is much smaller than a virus and very difficult to kill. It cannot be killed by cooking or by sterilization.

This prion causes a disease called Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, which is more commonly known as Mad Cow Disease.

But now this disease can be transmitted to humans.

By eating products from these infected cattle, we can succumb to a disease called variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, which has a similar effect on humans as Alzheimer’s Disease.

Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease has no cure.

A person’s brain is literally turned into a spongy mass.

The problem with its detection in humans is that it takes eight year or mores to develop after ingestion of this prion.

And recently, there have been a few, non-governmental, reports of cattle in this country becoming infected.

Additionally, this prion has been found in some human blood supplies in England, and it may be here, too.

This is a disease brought upon people by greed.

It's the words of Ecclesiastes 1:12-14 coming true:

12. I, the Preacher, have been king over Israel in Jerusalem.

13. And I set my mind to seek and explore by wisdom concerning all that has been done under heaven. It is a grievous task which God has given to the sons of men to be afflicted with.

14. I have seen all the works which have been done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and striving after wind.

Problems arise only when we become self-indulgent with God's wisdom, and believe we have a better way of doing things than God does.

And remember that we have been charged with bringing up our children by setting an example, hopefully a profitable one by God's standards.

Ecclesiastes 2:18-23:

18. Thus I hated all the fruit of my labor for which I had labored under the sun, for I must leave it to the man who will come after me.

19. And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will have control over all the fruit of my labor for which I have labored by acting wisely under the sun. This too is vanity.

20. Therefore I completely despaired of all the fruit of my labor for which I had labored under the sun.

21. When there is a man who has labored with wisdom, knowledge and skill, then he gives his legacy to one who has not labored with them. This too is vanity and a great evil.

22. For what does a man get in all his labor and in his striving with which he labors under the sun?

23. Because all his days his task is painful and grievous; even at night his mind does not rest. This too is vanity.

And when and if these factory farmers likewise come to their senses, it may be too late; for we might be in the process of creating a plague.

In 1Timothy 6:17-19 the Lord tells us what we are to do with such people:

17. Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.

18. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share,

19. storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.

The problem is, will they listen?

And what about us?

God has given us this wisdom, too. What are we doing with it?

God originally gave us only plant foods to eat, but humans lusted after the flesh of animals.

And in their greed for more and cheaper flesh, they put pressure of the animal agriculture industry to find less expensive ways of producing their products.

One of the ways they did this was to lose their humanity, have no regard for the suffering they were inflicting on the animals, and by turning them into cannibals.

Are we heeding God's wisdom, or are we allowing our greed to overcome that wisdom?

We should ponder these things over and over in our own minds, and personally ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten us to all His wisdom.

Don't give up!

Follow through with what He tells you.

Amen.

Your Comments are welcome

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