November 2, 2015

Needy or Greedy?

1 Kings 2:1–46, Mark 1:35–2:28, Proverbs 1:8–12

When I am shopping, looking at catalogs, dishing up my supper, or deciding how much I should have of anything, or even if I should have it at all, it helps to evaluate my motives. Am I needy? Or am I greedy?

Adonijah, who tried to grab the throne before his father David gave it to Solomon, came to Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother. He claimed to come peacefully. He then asked her to ask Solomon for Abishag as his wife. She was the young woman who served to keep King David warm. (See yesterday’s post.)

Bathsheba went to Solomon. I suspect she knew what he would say, but she delivered Adonijah’s request. He replied, “And why do you ask Abishag the Shunammite for Adonijah? Ask for him the kingdom also, for he is my older brother, and on his side are Abiathar the priest and Joab the son of Zeruiah.”

Then King Solomon swore by the Lord, “God do so to me and more also if this word does not cost Adonijah his life! Now therefore as the Lord lives, who has established me and placed me on the throne of David my father, and who has made me a house, as he promised, Adonijah shall be put to death today.”

Then Solomon sent a man to strike down this man, recognizing that his greed would not stop at taking this woman. He wanted everything for himself, including the kingdom. (1 Kings 2:13–25)

I have been greedy and audacious enough to ask my King Jesus, for things I wanted. Wisely He didn’t grant those requests. However, I’ve also asked Him out of need. Here is how He responds to needy requests:

“A leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, ‘If you will, you can make me clean.’ Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, ‘I will; be clean.’ And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean . . . .” (Mark 1:40–43)

Later, Jesus explains His actions. He was eating with sinners and tax collectors and some religious leaders said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” When Jesus heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:16–17) Jesus is not here to satisfy my greed but to meet my needs. He knows the difference, and I also ought to know that.

On another occasion, Jesus was going through the grain fields with his disciples. They were hungry and began to pluck heads of grain. The Pharisees were quick to point out that their myriad of laws said this was not lawful on the Sabbath. Jesus reminded them of what King David did when he was in need and was hungry. He and his men entered the house of God and ate the bread on the altar “which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those who were with him.” Then He said, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:23–28)

Jesus is interested in meeting needs. Those religious leaders were so caught up in doing the “proper” that they were blind to people in need. Lest I get carried away in criticism of their attitude, it’s easy to make the same mistake. In our society, we have this demand for “political correctness” plus that inner voice that asks, “what will people think” when faced with need-meeting, particularly when meeting that need means “there is nothing in it for me.” If I am motivated by any of those, that reveals that I am greedy about my own comfort and reputation.

Solomon wrote, “. . . if sinners entice you, do not consent. If they say, ‘Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood; let us ambush the innocent without reason; like Sheol let us swallow them alive, and whole, like those who go down to the pit . . . .” (Proverbs 1:10–12)

He also warns against greed because he knows two things about it. One is that the temptations will come, even from friends. The other is that yielding to greed results in robbing others of what they need. Greed can also destroy other people when I’m in the process of trying to get what I want for myself.

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