The Trap


Don’t wear yourself out trying to get rich: you are wasting your time. Riches can disappear as though they had the wings of a bird!

~Proverbs 23:4-5, JEV


God can satisfy your need but no one can satisfy your greed.


What is the root of sin; is it pride or disobedience? Technically speaking, it was pride that lead our parents to disobey, so I guess you could say that the root of all sin is pride. Years ago, some of our church fathers came up with Seven Deadly Sins. The Greek words are very interesting:

  1. Gastrimargia {Gluttony}
  2. Porneia {the root of our word pornography but usually translated fornication}
  3. Philargyria {Avarice or Greed}
  4. Hyperephania–self-overestimation {Pride}
  5. Lype {envy}
  6. Orgē  {wrath/anger}
  7. Kenodoxia) {boasting or literally, self-praise}

I know none of us are Greek scholars but I find it remarkable that all these words are familiar except number five which was new to me. There are different list and different orders such as: Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth {Laziness}, Wrath, Envy, and Pride. My point is this: Greed or avarice is a much worse than we are willing to admit. I’ve had several to challenge me to preach on gluttony but no one has ever dared me to preach on GREED. We all know someone who is good morally to the extent of being highly judgmental of others and yet they themselves are greedy. They see the sins of others but they don’t see their own greed. Many of the stories Jesus told were about GREED. The Rich Farmer, the Prodigal Son, the Good Samaritan, the Unjust Steward, the Rich Young Ruler, the Pharisee and Publican, etc. We know that greed is prevalent and yet it is never confessed. Why don’t people tithe? Why do we complain when presented with an opportunity to give or to help someone else? Why do we flinch instead of clap or shout when we see the ushers and the offering plates pass? Have you ever watched the plates pass through the congregation? You need to watch: you would think there was a deadly plague in the plate because some folks refuse to even touch the plate. There is a little greedy person deep inside of you and if you are not proactive, he/she will rule your life.

All that above is free: it is not what I want to talk about. The lure of riches is a trap. Every con artist knows that the key to ripping a person off is to appeal to their greed. What can you offer them that is too good to pass up which is usually, too good to be true. Gambling is a classic example: whether its a draw down or a lottery ticket–it appeals to our greed. Gambling is the devil’s age old get rich quick scheme. Gambling is not based on luck, it is based on greed and hundreds, yea even millions have to lose in order for one to win. I know for a fact that people who participate in draw downs write bad checks and don’t pay their bills which means they can’t afford to participate is a draw down but they think they have a chance of winning. “But it is going to a good cause,” says the lottery supporters: “we need the money for education.” Why, we waste millions of dollars on unneeded services now. Morgan County has three systems with three Superintendents and all that goes with them. Our overhead is astronomical. Well, we don’t have to worry about Georgia or Tennessee because they have the lottery. Yeah right: do you think the politicians in those two States will never asks for higher taxes? I wouldn’t hold my breath.

For the biblically illiterate who think this is my opinion: try these verses on for size…

  • Proverbs 13:11–Wealth from getrichquick schemes quickly disappears; wealth from hard work grows over time.
  • Proverbs 28:22–Greedy people try to get rich quick but don’t realize they’re headed for poverty.
  • Proverbs 28:20–The trustworthy person will get a rich reward, but a person who wants quick riches will get into trouble.

Paul has a word of the subject as well…”Godliness with contentment is itself great wealth.  After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content. But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows. 

When I went to see Jim at Vandy last week, KT wanted some Mountain Dews which you cannot get in the hospital so I walked a few blocks to a Mapco. I found the Dews rather quickly but had to stand in line to pay for them. The reason, “Lottery Tickets,” of the scratch off variety. Three black women were scratching while the black woman at the register waited to see if they won. I’m standing there will real money and she ignores me. I don’t like to be ignored but I was patient. I just watch these poor dupes with amusement. I don’t think these three ladies were in a Mercedes and I wondered whose money they used to get the lotto tickets. Did it come from a government credit card that is supposed to be used for food? Could have been! People who gamble are not highly intelligent. The lottery is a tax on the poor and stupid.

I guess we need a little humor to lighten the tension. While June and I were in Seminary, we served a small church is East New Orleans. One of our new converts was a German Lutheran named John Zell. We were having financial problems and John recommended we have a dance and charge for admittance. He may have mentioned a bar, I don’t remember. Hey, I can’t make things up like this and yes, I rained on his parade because the end doesn’t justify the means. It doesn’t matter how worthy the cause, how we fund things should be ethical. We are not to play on people’s greed to pad our own pockets. I saw a bumper sticker yesterday that I love because it is so very true…DO NOT STEAL, THE GOVERNMENT HATES COMPETITION. The Lottery, like income tax, is a legal way for the government to steal.

June and I went to Greenhill yesterday for a COLS. We drove through Courtland and across the 101 Dam bridge and it is very narrow and as always, we meet a big truck. These bridges make Big Mama nervous. She asked it there was another way home and I said sure. We left Greenhill, went south of 43, hit 72 into Florence, crossed the new bridge and went over and hit 157 and from there to Moulton. I couldn’t believe it: it was 64.2 miles over and 64.1 coming back. I would have guessed the Florence route to be at least 15 miles further.

If you gave cards to myself or June on Sunday to get to Jim’s: there are there–carried them yesterday.


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