“He is not poor that hath not much, but that craves much.”
Back in 1978, which seems to be a long time ago, a new television program was introduced to the American public called “Dallas” which went on to become the world’s most popular T.V. soap opera. In a discussion about the basic content of the program, Leonard Capsman, the writer and producer of “Dallas”, said that there were four ingredients which went into the scripts and accounted for the shows great success: “Greed, wealth, fame, and sex.” And then Capsman made this very pointed observation: “I deliberately placed greed at the top of the list!”
Whether it is a mesmerizing television program or a discussion among business tycoons or even the wishful day-dreaming of what are called “wannabaes,” our world has always been tainted by greed – that overwhelming desire to acquire more and more – never content with what one has. And the spirit of greed, make no mistake, isn’t just about the unbridled passion for more money. It can also be the ambitious longing for more power – in excess of what one requires or deserves.
The author Paul Martin describes what he calls the “facets” of greed and he states that there are three:
Facet #1: Love of things.
Facet # 2: Love of fame.
Facet # 3: Love of pleasure.
As I contemplated the life of Haman, as we can easily recognize, all three facets were present not only in his life as a whole, but more specifically, these three facets glitter and glow in his response to King Ahasuerus when Haman was asked, “What should be done for the man whom the king desires to honor?”
Thinking as he did that he was to be the king’s honoree, Haman responded by first asking for three things: royal apparel, a royal horse and last but not least, a royal crown. As we already learned, Haman’s intent was to eventually be the leader of Medo-Persia. While the Bible doesn’t specifically say that Haman was behind the plot to have the king assassinated, some Biblical scholars surmise that Haman’s ambition kept the king’s advisors and staff in turmoil, which I might add, often leads to unrest in government. Historians through time have pointed out that leaders who have respect and loyalty among those who work for them are not as prone to turmoil as they lead the nations’ citizens.
The second facet highlighted by Paul Martin is the love of fame. How much more famous could an individual be, dressed in royal apparel, wearing a royal crown and riding on a royal horse throughout the streets being heralded by one of “the king’s most noble princes” as the man whom the king delights to honor. In fact, the statement was actually to be spoken of as “thus shall it be done to the man.” Talk about a lofty shout-out. This was the way of announcing that the royally dressed individual on the royal horse was to be elevated to the level of the king.
As the third facet Martin writes about, the love of pleasure, it isn’t difficult for us to watch as Haman not only longs to be at the center of attention within his own circle of family and friends but he is also desirous of sitting in the seat of pride-filled pleasure and bliss whether it is dining with the king or queen or feasting at the king’s palace.
What we need to witness carefully is the fact that in all these facets, it is the desire of the egotistical individual to have the focus, indeed, the spotlight, shining directly on themselves. Their personal passion is to be at the hub of attention. Their goal is to have the attention of others directed upon themselves. And it is easy for us to watch as Haman, so oblivious to the fact that there are others around him who may well be the individual the king would like to bestow favor upon that it blocks Haman’s vision. The blinders of greed cause so much discontent in Haman’s world that it becomes impossible for him to see anybody but himself.
Author Paul Martin doesn’t stop by calling our attention to the three facets of greed. He also states that there are three, what I call antidotes, to the all-consuming spirit of greed: “frugality, anonymity, and moderation.” Being careful with spending habits; keeping a humble spirit without craving the spotlight; and living a life without excess in any one area of our life – these antidotes for us as Christians can become an outgrowth of Christ’s love living within us.
One of my favorite books in the New Testament is the book of Philippians, identified as the fourth of the Apostle Paul’s Prison Letters. Written during Paul’s first imprisonment in Rome (A.D. 59-61), his words to the Christians in Philippi carry an incredible message for you and me today:
‘Rejoice in the Lord always’, again, I say, ‘Rejoice!’ Let all know and recognize your unselfishness…Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything by prayer, with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God. And God’s peace shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God, and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4: 4
Please note the words or phrases I chose to underline like peace, unselfishness, tranquil state, fearing nothing and ‘Rejoice!’
These aren’t’ words we might expect to find in a letter written from a dark, dank prison. But then, the Apostle Paul had chosen the pathway carved out by Jesus Christ. A pathway where earthly things, ambitions and power weren’t what was desired. And where greed wasn’t the ruling passion of his life.
For us today, the contrast is stark and clear. The call comes to our hearts, “What would we choose if our heavenly King asked us to honor Him by following His daily call?” “What will be given to the man or woman that our King delights to honor?” “And I shall give them eternal life…no one is able to snatch them out of My hand” (John 10: 28, Amplified Bible).
“The god of greed is a cheat. His delights have the power to dazzle and excite but they can satisfy nobody.”
“Let my daily life be in You, and every breath I take for You.”
After John Cassian
A Necessity of Love
I abandon myself into Your hands,
Do with me as You will.
Whatever You may do with me,
I thank You.
I am prepared for anything,
I accept everything,
provided Your will is fulfilled in me.
I ask for nothing more,
I place my soul in Your hands,
I give it to You, my God,
with all the love of my heart,
because I love You.
And for me it is a necessity of love,
this gift of myself,
this placing of myself in Your hands,
in boundless confidence,
because You are
—Charles de Foucauld
“Take my love; my Lord, I pray
At Thy feet its treasure-store.
Take myself, and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee.”
—Frances R. Havergal
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus