CAROLYN'S COMPOSITIONS

March 31, 2011

Lenten Study: 7 Deadly Sins—Greed #4: Secretly Generous


CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

LENTEN STUDY: 7 DEADLY SINS

GREED #4: SECRETLY GENEROUS

MONTE W. HOLLAND

 INTRODUCTION

     The following study is a journey through Lent, the forty-day pre-Easter season (which excludes Sundays).  Easter’s date, determined by the time of the first full moon after the Spring equinox, is very late this year.

     Traditionally, many Christians use Lent for self-examination and a renewal of their commitment to their faith.

     This year I  chose to do a devotional study on aspects of the Seven Deadly Sins, sins identified by very early Christians as key behaviors separating man from God and God’s will. The seven sins are not listed together in the Bible—each is, however, spoken about in various Scripture sites.

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THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS:

GREED, ENVY, ANGER, LUST, GLUTTONY, SLOTH and PRIDE.

THE ASPECTS OF THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS ARE:

#1 Breaking the Mosaic Law

#2 Defying God or rebelling against God

#3 Acts of violence to others

#4 Failing to make proper sacrifices or worship

#5 Not living up to or reflecting God’s glory (not living as one created in God’s image)

GREED #4

SECRETLY GENEROUS

SCRIPTURE:  1 When you do good deeds, don’t try to show off. If you do, you won’t get a reward from your Father in heaven. 2 When you give to the poor, don’t blow a loud horn. That’s what show-offs do in the synagogues and on the street corners, because they are always looking for praise. I can assure you that they already have their reward. 3 When you give to the poor, don’t let anyone know about it. 4 Then your gift will be given in secret. Your Father knows what is done in secret and will reward you. ( Luke 11.2-4) 5 When you pray, don’t be like those show-offs who love to stand up and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners. They do this just to look good. I can assure you that they already have their reward. 6 When you pray, go into a room alone and close the door. Pray to your Father in private. He knows what is done in private and will reward you. (Matthew 6:1-6 (CEV))  

1 And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury. 2 And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites. 3 And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all: 4 for all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had. (Luke 21:1-4 (KJV))

DEVOTION: I don’t know how to handle the “bandwagon effect” that occurs whenever I donate to a charity—their wanting to list my name as a donor. I understand that they want to stimulate others to donate by showing how many others are involved and even how much they are giving.

     The poor widow wasn’t on anybody’s donor list. Nobody would e-mail her or call her to make a donation. She had little and little was expected of her. She made no big deal that she was putting all her money in the collection plate.

     I often wonder how much would be in the collection plate at a Sunday worship service if everyone present emptied their wallets and purses into the collection plate. We might be amazed! I guess if we were to compare this giving to the widow’s gift, we would have to give all we had in our wallets and write a check for all that was in our savings and all that was in our checking accounts.

     Jesus made it clear that this was a generous woman. We can only assume she was generous because she loved God. Certainly she wasn’t respected among the people in the temple. We know that poor people don’t get much respect.

     Are we able to narrow our financial thinking to put it all in terms of God and God’s will? Greed steers us clear of such action. Greed reminds us that we need to take care of ourselves and our kin. Greed reminds us that “rainy days” are coming. Greed drives us to give as little as we can in such a way as to receive the most acclaim.

     Give to the poor and don’t let anyone know about it. Offer prayers in secret. Stay under the radar (people’s radar but not God’s.) Being secretly generous is no secret at all to the one who counts most, God. Can I draw so close to God that I can both give generously and let others use my name to recruit generosity from others, without it going to my head? It is a tightrope to walk, but it is possible if I pray continuously and ask God to keep our eyes on our future generosity and to wash away our pride in past generosity.

     The poor widow had no time for pride in giving. Surely she would be busy finding her way into the future with nothing in hand.

PRAYER:  Loving God, how interlinked our sins are. Greed demands that we shouldn’t give too much. Pride demands recognition for what little we give. May your Spirit drive us to being both generous and out of the limelight as we respond to your call on our lives. Amen.

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To read the previous devotion, click on: Lenten Study: 7 Deadly Sins—Sloth #3: Not Nurturing Others

To read the following devotion, click on: Lenten Study: 7 Deadly Sins—Envy #4: God Is Where You Are

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ADDITIONAL READING:

WISDOM FROM A CHILD TO A GRANDPARENT

KEEPING PEACE IN SOUTH AFRICA Part 1

KEEPING PEACE IN SOUTH AFRICA Part 2

KEEPING PEACE IN SOUTH AFRICA Part 3

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