Luke 12:15 (NIV)
Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”
Attending a game show wasn't your idea of a vacation activity, but your kids wanted to go, so you gave in. Now that you're here, you are beginning to enjoy it. The studio frenzy is contagious. The music is upbeat. The stage is colorful. And the stakes are high.
"Higher than they've ever been!" The show host brags. "Welcome to What Is Your Price?" You're just about to ask your spouse if that is his real hair when he announces the pot: "Ten million dollars!"
The audience needs no prompting; they explode with applause.
"It's the richest game in history," the host beams. "Someone today will walk out of here with a check for ten million!"
"Won't be me," you chuckle to your oldest child. "I've never had any luck at luck."
"Shhhh," she whispers, pointing to the stage. "They're about to draw the name."
Guess whose name they call. In the instant it takes to call it, you go from spectator to player. Your kids shriek, your spouse screams, and a thousand eyes watch the pretty girl take your hand and walk you to the stage.
"Open the curtain!" the host commands. You turn and watch as the curtains part and you gasp at the sight. A bright red wheelbarrow full of money-overflowing with money. The same girl who walked you to the stage now pushes the wheelbarrow in your direction, parking it in front of you.
"Ever seen ten million dollars?" asks the pearly toothed host.
"Not in a while," you answer. The audience laughs like you were a stand-up comic.
"Dig your hands in it;" he invites. "Go ahead, dive in." You look at your family. One child is drooling, one is praying, and your mate is giving you two thumbs up. How can you refuse? You burrow in up to your shoulders and rise up, clutching a chestful of one-hundreddollar bills.
"It can be yours. It can be all yours. The choice is up to you. The only question you have to answer is, `What is your price?"'
Applause rings again, the band plays, and you swallow hard. Behind you a second curtain opens, revealing a large placard. "What are you willing to give?" is written on the top. The host explains the rules. "All you have to do is agree to one condition and you will receive the money."
"Ten million dollars!" you whisper to yourself.
Not one million or two, but ten million. No small sum. Nice nest egg. Ten million bucks would go a long way, right? Tuition paid off. Retirement guaranteed. Would open a few doors on a few cars or a new house (or several).
You could be quite the benefactor with such a sum. Help a few orphanages. Feed a few nations. Build some church buildings. Suddenly you understand. This is the opportunity of a lifetime.
"Take your pick. Just choose one option and the money is yours.
A deep voice from another microphone begins reading the list.
"Put your children up for adoption.' "Become a prostitute for a week." "Give up your American citizenship." "Abandon your church."
"Abandon your family."
"Kill a stranger."
"Have a sex-change operation."
"Leave your spouse."
"Change your race."
"That's the list," the host proclaims. "Now make your choice."
The theme music begins, the audience is quiet, and your pulse is racing. You have a choice to make. No one can help you. You are on the stage. The decision is yours. No one can tell you what to pick.
But there is one thing I can tell you. I can tell you what others would do. Your neighbors have given their answers. In a national survey that asked the same question, many said what they would do. Seven percent of those who answered would murder for the money. Six percent would change their race. Four percent would change their sex.
If money is the gauge of the heart, then this study revealed that money is on the heart of most Americans. In exchange for ten million dollars.
25 percent would abandon their family. 25 percent would abandon their church. 23 percent would become a prostitute for a week. 16 percent would give up their American citizenship. 16 percent would leave their spouse. 3 percent would put their children up for adoption. Even more revealing than what Americans would do for ten million dollars is that most would do something. Two-thirds of those polled would agree to at least one-some to several-of the options. The majority, in other words, would not leave the stage empty-handed. They would pay the price to own the wheelbarrow.
What would you do? Or better, what are you doing?
You may be saying "I've never had a shot at ten million."
Perhaps not, but you've had a chance to make a thousand or a hundred or ten. The amount may not have been the same but the choices are. Which makes the question even more disturbing. Some are willing to give up their family, faith, or morals for far less than ten million dollars.
Jesus had a word for that: greed.
Jesus also had a definition for greed. He called it the practice of measuring life by possessions.
The consequence of such a philosophy is predictable. If you are the sum of what you own, then by all means own it all. No price is too high. No payment is too much.
Dear Lord, help us get our priorities straight. We pray that we would not measure ourselves by the things we have. Help us not be greedy but be content with what You have for each of us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.