Worst Work of the FleshDecember 14, 2018
Now the works of the flesh are…. lasciviousness….
— Galatians 5:19
Several months before the Christmas season began, my Grandpa and Grandma Renner would receive a Sears Christmas catalog in the mail. When that catalog arrived, we three Renner kids could hardly wait to see what Sears was offering for Christmas. The experience was made even more enticing when my parents took us to the Sears department store, and we’d walk floor to floor to personally inspect the products to see if they were as wonderful as they appeared in the catalog.
Ronda, Lori, and I would pore over the pages of that catalog. It was huge — filled with clothes, camping gear, and gifts of all sorts. Of course, since we were kids, we were especially drawn to the multiple pages filled with images of wonderful toys. I knew I couldn’t have them all, but I’d dream about getting certain toys for my Christmas gifts. In fact, that is where I found my robot that walked when the antenna was placed into its head. Oh, at Christmastime, there was just nothing as exciting as a Sears Christmas catalog! (Maybe you’re of the generation that can relate to that memory!)
When we went to the store to peruse the products, Ronda looked at clothes; I looked at toys; Lori looked at dolls; Mother looked at washing machines; and Dad looked at tools. Each of us were attracted to different things.
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I would have to say that one word summed it up for us — greed. Even though I knew it wasn’t possible, I wanted the BB gun, the Indian Fort with all of its little plastic Indians and cowboys, and the 2-foot-high rocket; Lori wanted the Barbie dollhouse and all of the accessories that went with it; and Ronda wanted a whole new wardrobe of clothes every year. We vigorously flipped through those catalog pages, looking at this thing, that thing, and this other thing — and greed just about ate us up! What was worse, we knew we couldn’t have it all! So we struggled with a dilemma each Christmas season: How did we choose what we wanted out of all the marvelous things that were offered on those pages?
Even at our young age, greed was already working in us — a characteristic the Bible calls a “work of the flesh.” Galatians 5:19 says, “Now the works of the flesh are…[among others] lasciviousness.…”
As Paul listed the works of the flesh in the book of Galatians, he mentioned “lasciviousness.” This strange word comes from the Greek word aselgeia. This Greek word describes excess, but it primarily refers to the excessive consumption of food or wild, undisciplined living. In fact, it refers to the wild, undisciplined desire for anything — and that’s why it is often translated as the word greed. It’s the desire for more and more — never satisfied.
Although the three of us were young, that work of the flesh had already reared its ugly head. Daddy and Mother had to reel us in and teach us to be more disciplined in our thinking. They taught us to be more selective about what we wanted, because they were not rich enough to buy everything we thought should go on our lists!
As a young boy, I started the process of learning to repent for being materialistic. All of the works of the flesh can be forgiven — but before forgiveness comes, sin must be acknowledged. My parents helped me understand that having everything one wants is not a reality of life and is not even good for us. I came to recognize the desire to have more and more of whatever I wanted as sin — so I repented and confessed, and I was cleansed. And I learned one more important point: When greed is removed, thankfulness for anything you receive takes over!
If you have fallen into any aspect of this work of the flesh, ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to see this sin as He sees it. Once you get a revelation of His perspective, you won’t want to be the same! You’ll understand the grossness of sin in God’s sight, and you will want to be changed!
Just confess your sin, and God will forgive you so you can move on with your life free (see 1 John 1:9). Pray for God’s mighty grace to be upon you to forgive you. Dear friend, God is with you, and He wants to change your life. Open your heart, and let the Holy Spirit be your Helper. He wants to help you live continually cleansed, set free, and morally strong and stable. With His help, you can do it!
There was nothing wrong with dreaming about what we saw in the Sears Christmas Catalog — and there is nothing wrong with our dreaming about upgrading every part of our lives. But when desire becomes greed, it is sin, and we must ask forgiveness for it. God is always standing by as our personal Helper to guide us through this very important process!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, I ask You to forgive me for wanting everything all at one time. I didn’t realize this was greed trying to get a foothold in my life. Help me know how to dream without falling headlong into greed at the same time. As I set my sights toward things on the earth, help me to recognize which desires are pure and inspired by You and which are just my own carnal lusts or worldly desires. I truly want to please You, Lord, so I ask You to help me conform my thoughts to Your will.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I confess that I am moderate in the way I live and in the things I desire to obtain. I refuse to allow greediness to rule me. I live by the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus that works mightily in me. His love in me enables me to focus on what others need more than what I want for myself. I am thankful for this work of Christ that helps me to esteem others more highly than myself.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- Can you think of a time when greed consumed your life — and you could think of nothing more than what additional worldly possessions you could add to your life?
- What broke the power of greediness in your life? What instigated the big change?
- If you were advising someone today who is consumed with worldly possessions, what advice would you give them to walk free from this dominating control?