In Your Bible Read This Out Loud: Acts 5:1-11
Memorise This Verse: 1 Samuel 15:26
Afterwards Talk About This: What would happen if God judged all the greedy people in today's church in the same way he did in the case of Ananias and Sapphira.
Something To Do Before Next Time: In prayer, ask God to show you any areas of greed in your life.
Written Diploma Work: Write one side on why some of the harshest judgements of God have been against greed.
Meditate Word By Word On This Verse: Joshua 7:15
Having seen in the previous section the warnings about greed this section will look at specific biblical examples of people who yielded to greed and the consequences that followed. Remember that Colossians 3:5 declares that the wrath of coming against greed and the bible provides several example where the wrath of God is brought to bear against certain individuals. Just as generosity attracts the blessings of God, greed attracts the judgement of God and the following people give ample evidence of this.
The first greedy person we will look at is King Saul in 1 Samuel chapter 15 we see how Saul receives instruction from God through the prophet Samuel to attack the Amalakites and destroy them and all their livestock. Saul successfully wins the battle but greed overtakes him and instead of destroying all the livestock he keeps the best for himself. God sees Saul's greed and the prophet Samuel is dispatched by God to challenge Saul about his greed and disobedience Saul's disobedience worsens as he firstly lies and claims to have carried out God's instructions (verse 13) and even worse he uses a pathetic 'spiritual' excuse that he was going to sacrifice the animals to God.
The truth of the matter was that despite Saul's claims that it was for a 'spiritual' purpose that he kept the best livestock he was plain greedy and admits to this in verse 24. As a result of his rebellion and greed the judgement is upon him and he is rejected forever as King over Israel 1 Samuel 15:35 says 'And the Lord grieved that he made Saul King over Israel'.
It is not surprising when the unsaved are greedy – it is almost to be expected of them it is bad when Christians are greedy but it is obnoxious when they provide so called 'spiritual' excuses to justify their greed and selfishness. Pastors justify spending ludicrous amounts of money on spires and stain glass windows claiming that their church should reflect the glory of God – clearly, having stain glass windows is more important for some people than having food given to hungry orphans.
Churches will spend thousands of pounds sending their leadership to international conferences or 'revival hot spots' in order that they receive a time of spiritual refreshing. Clearly, spending money so Pastors can be spectators and get refreshed at the latest 'revival experience' is more important than spending money seeing orphans refreshed with clean water, basic food and a change of clothes. Is it not the case that no amount of spiritual weasel words can justify the spending habits of some Christians and churches?
Saul tried and failed, and so will we on judgement day when Jesus will give short thrift to these excuses and will say, 'Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me' (Matthew 25:45)
The next greedy person who suffered the judgement of God is Achan the story is related in Joshua chapter 7. The children of Israel has successfully plundered Jericho but were warned that the silver and gold were set apart and sacred unto God and were to be brought into the Lord's treasury. Achan disobeys and secretly keeps some silver and gold for himself but notice the result, Saul's greed was supernaturally revealed to Samuel and in the same way, Achan's greed was supernaturally revealed to Joshua – greed will always eventually be flushed out from the people of God. Achan's disobedience resulted in the stoning and burning of himself, his family and all his possessions.
Notice a further point about Achan's sin of greed whilst his sin was uncovered the Israelites were routed by their enemies, and the Lord revealed to Joshua that until the greed was exposed and driven out they would not be successful. Sadly, in churches today there are many Achans in our midst, who hinder the work of God and give a foothold to the enemy by their greed and selfishness.
Are you are modern day Achan or are you a giver? is your church being blessed or hindered by your financial dealings? A church full of Achans will be devoured by our enemy the devil, but a church full of Joshuas will be able to go forth and win the land for God.
2 Kings 5:19-27 provides the background of the next greedy person who is Gehazi. After being healed of leprosy, Naaman is sent on his way by Elisha, but a greedy Gehazi pursues Naaman and uses lies and trickery to extract silver and clothing from him by deception. Once again greed is supernaturally revealed by God to a righteous man (Elisha) as Elisha declares that his spirit was with Gehazi when he was lying and cheating (verse 26). Once again greed leads to the judgment of God and Gehazi is struck down with leprosy if this judgement was applied today to greed amongst the people of God, many churches would be turned into leper colonies.
The Old Testament gives even more examples of greed attracting the judgement of God in 1 Samuel 25 we read of the story of David and the husband and wife of Nabal and Abigail. Verse 3 says that Nabal, 'Was surly and mean in his dealings', and when David's men make a request for food he refuses and as a result of his greed and selfishness David prepares his men to attack him.
However his wife realises her husband's greed and she provides for David and prevents much bloodshed and loss of life due to the fact that David was a man of God he was deserving of some of Nabal's food and meat. Abigail later meets Nabal and she explains what has happened – the story turns his heart faint and he became like a stone (verse 38) once again greed is judged and Nabal is later struck down dead by God (verse 38)
A further example which is taken from the New Testament is the awful story of Ananias and Sapphira which is found in Acts 5:1-10. Previous to their wicked deed, the early church is walking in glory and power and Acts 2:45 & Acts 4:34 show that Holy Spirit had his hands firmly on the church purse strings.
However Satan sought to invade this model financial community through greed and a withholding spirit and Acts 5:3 shows that Ananias' heart wasn't sufficiently filled with the love of God so Satan was able to fill it with greed. Both Ananias and Sapphira lie not only to men but actually lie to the Holy Spirit (verse 3) and both suffer the terrible judgement of God and are struck dead. Notice that once again that the method that God used to flush out greed is to reveal it to a man of God (namely Peter) and the man of God administers and calls down the judgement of God against both Ananias and Sapphira.
The biblical stories looked at in this chapter cover some of the most terrible and serious judgements of God to be found in the whole of scripture – it must be greatly urged upon everyone who reads this that they must drive greed out of their lives. Surely, in light of the above scriptures about the thundering judgement of God we must be very careful that greed doesn't creep up on us. Summarised below are the judgements of God that we have looked at against various greedy people these must surely be a dire warning to anyone who would claim to be following Jesus.
1 Samuel Chp15
Samuel – Saul Rejected as King
Joshua – Achan Stoned and burned
2 Kings 5:19
Naaman – Gehazi Struck with leprosy
1 Samuel 25
Abigail – Nabal Struck down dead
Peter – Ananias & Sapphira Struck down dead
A House of Prayer for the Poorer Nations
Pray for Guinea
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This study contains the personal beliefs and practices of of the author who recommends them to the reader. The author takes no credit for their success where applied and likewise takes no responsibility for any failure or disappointment.
The House of Prayer for the Poorer Nations at the end of each section is based on Operation World 21st Century Edition © Patrick Johnstone, Jason Mandryk. Published by Paternoster. All scriptures are NIV © Hodder & Stoughton.