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GREED


Sermon Illustrations

GREED

Leo Tolstoy once wrote a story about a successful peasant farmer who was not satisfied with his lot. He wanted more of everything. One day he received a novel offer. For 1000 rubles, he could buy all the land he could walk around in a day. The only catch in the deal was that he had to be back at his starting point by sundown. Early the next morning he started out walking at a fast pace. By midday he was very tired, but he kept going, covering more and more ground. Well into the afternoon he realized that his greed had taken him far from the starting point. He quickened his pace and as the sun began to sink low in the sky, he began to run, knowing that if he did not make it back by sundown the opportunity to become an even bigger landholder would be lost. As the sun began to sink below the horizon he came within sight of the finish line. Gasping for breath, his heart pounding, he called upon every bit of strength left in his body and staggered across the line just before the sun disappeared. He immediately collapsed, blood streaming from his mouth. In a few minutes he was dead. Afterwards, his servants dug a grave. It was not much over six feet long and three feet wide. The title of Tolstoy's story was: How Much Land Does a Man Need?

Bits & Pieces, November, 1991.


Greed is the logical result of the belief that there is no life after death. We grab what we can while we can however we can and then hold on to it hard.

Sir Fred Catherwood, Evangelicals Now, September, 1994.


Men who trap animals in Africa for zoos in America say that one of the hardest animals to catch is the ringtailed monkey. For the Zulus of that continent, however, it's simple. They've been catching this agile little animal with ease for years. The method the Zulus use is based on knowledge of the animal. Their trap is nothing more than a melon growing on a vine. The seeds of this melon are a favorite of the monkey. Knowing this, the Zulus simply cut a hole in the melon, just large enough for the monkey to insert his hand to reach the seeds inside. The monkey will stick his hand in, grab as many seeds as he can, then start to withdraw it. This he cannot do. His fist is now larger than the hole. The monkey will pull and tug, screech and fight the melon for hours. But he can't get free of the trap unless he gives up the seeds, which he refuses to do. Meanwhile, the Zulus sneak up and nab him.

Bibliographic Reference is Uncertain: Charles Swindoll, Living Above the Level of Mediocrity, p.150ff.


She owns a string of hotels. She owns the Empire State Building. She is a billionaire. Yet, in September 1989 Leona Mindy Rosenthal Helmsley was convicted of 33 counts of tax evasion, for which she spent time in prison. According to Time magazine, she emerged as a penny-pinching tyrant who tried to stiff just about everybody. No amount of money was too small to fight over. After the sudden death of her only son at age 40 in 1982, she sued and won the lion's share of his estate, $149,000, leaving his four children with $432 each and his widow with $2,171.

Unknown.


Statistics and Research

What are you willing to do for $10,000,000? Two-thirds of Americans polled would agree to at least one, some to several of the following:

Would abandon their entire family (25%)
Would abandon their church (25%)
Would become prostitutes for a week or more (23%)
Would give up their American citizenships (16%)
Would leave their spouses (16%)
Would withhold testimony and let a murderer go free (10%)
Would kill a stranger (7%)
Would put their children up for adoption (3%)

James Patterson and Peter Kim, The Day America Told the Truth, 1991


 

 


 
 
 
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