With Christmas presents comes Christmas squabbles. Parents, you are familiar with this theme. There is the Christmas rush and the present wrapping. There is Christmas dinner and then Christmas cleanup. Then, after all is said and done, the squabbles begin. Present envy may set in. Some children become excellent time keepers, as in, “Mommy, he has had the car for 17 minutes, when is it my turn?” Other children become hoarders, as in, “All the presents in this corner are mine, so stay away!” Or, there is the dispute over whose present is whose. All of the challenging things your remember from last Christmas, but over the course of 364 days have somehow managed to forget, are back.
Time of possession, present hoarding, ownership disputes, and other such problems all fall under the heading of greed.
Ouch! Greed is a pretty strong word. Do we have to go there?
Actually, we do.
Sin is deceitful. Greed can masquerade as a desire for justice or fair play. But greed is when you want something for yourself without regard to caring for someone else.
Ouch, again!! Sadly, I am no stranger to greed. My children had a good teacher to teach them about greed. Greed on Christmas is still greed.
Christ had an encounter with a greedy person while traveling back to Jerusalem to be crucified. A man from the crowd asked Jesus to settle an inheritance dispute with his brother. No doubt, this issue was critically important to the offended brother. He must have been taken aback to see his desire for fairness and justice be exposed for what it really was – greed. Christ ignores the who, what, where, when of the situation and goes straight to the heart. He tells this man that he is concerned about the wrong things. Life does not consist in the abundance of possessions. Here is the interchange as it is recorded in Luke:
Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”
Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” 15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” Luke 12:13-14
Greedy children become greedy adults. It is possible to become sophisticated in the way we pursue greed, as was the case with the man in the narrative. But greed is still greed. Christ tells this man that the accumulation of things is not what life is about.
Don’t misunderstand. I think giving gifts to your loved ones is a wonderful thing to do. But, we must not miss the warning Christ gives to this justice-conscious man. Life does not consist in the abundance of things.
Whether your tree has many presents or just a few, greed is still a danger. Greed is something to guard against. I Corinthians 13:4-7 is the opposite of greed. Read it with your children regularly, not just on Christmas but often through out the year. If you are able to teach your children that life does not consist in the abundance of presents, you will have given them a precious gift.