1. ENVY AND KINDRED SINS
a. Explain the origin of pride, envy, and ambition for position—and its bitter results. Isaiah 14:12–15.
“It was pride and ambition that prompted Lucifer to complain of the government of God, and to seek the overthrow of the order which had been established in heaven. Since his fall it has been his object to infuse the same spirit of envy and discontent, the same ambition for position and honor, into the minds of men.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 403.
b. Describe a carnal mind—a candidate for the second death? 1 Corinthians 3:3; Romans 8:6, 7; James 3:14, 15.
“If you open your heart to envy and evil surmising, the Holy Spirit cannot abide with you.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, p. 191.
c. How does envy affect your personality and well-being? Job 5:2; Proverbs 14:30; 27:4.
“The envious man diffuses poison wherever he goes, alienating friends and stirring up hatred and rebellion against God and man. He seeks to be thought best and greatest, not by putting forth heroic, self-denying efforts to reach the goal of excellence himself, but by standing where he is and diminishing the merit due to the efforts of others.”—Ibid., vol. 5, p. 56.
2. COVETOUSNESS IN THE HEART
a. In what sense does covetousness violate the commandments of God? Exodus 20:17. What do we learn about this sin from the experience of Achan? Joshua 7:20–26.
“The deadly sin that led to Achan’s ruin had its root in covetousness, of all sins one of the most common and the most lightly regarded. While other offenses meet with detection and punishment, how rarely does the violation of the tenth commandment so much as call forth censure. The enormity of this sin, and its terrible results, are the lessons of Achan’s history.
“Covetousness is an evil of gradual development. Achan had cherished greed of gain until it became a habit, binding him in fetters well-nigh impossible to break. While fostering this evil, he would have been filled with horror at the thought of bringing disaster upon Israel; but his perceptions were deadened by sin, and when temptation came, he fell an easy prey.
“Are not similar sins still committed, in the face of warnings as solemn and explicit? We are as directly forbidden to indulge covetousness as was Achan to appropriate the spoils of Jericho. God has declared it to be idolatry. We are warned, ‘Ye cannot serve God and mammon’ (Matthew 6:24). ‘Take heed, and beware of covetousness’ (Luke 12:15). ‘Let it not be once named among you’ (Ephesians 5:3). We have before us the fearful doom of Achan, of Judas, of Ananias and Sapphira. Back of all these we have that of Lucifer, the ‘son of the morning,’ who, coveting a higher state, forfeited forever the brightness and bliss of heaven. And yet, notwithstanding all these warnings, covetousness abounds.
“Everywhere its slimy track is seen. It creates discontent and dissension in families; it excites envy and hatred in the poor against the rich; it prompts the grinding oppression of the rich toward the poor. And this evil exists not in the world alone, but in the church.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 496, 497.
b. What should be our relationship to those who are controlled by the spirit of covetousness? Ephesians 5:5; 1 Corinthians 5:11.
c. Among what other sinners will covetous persons be kept out of the kingdom of God? 1 Corinthians 6:10.
3. THE EVIL OF GREED
a. As envy and covetousness take root in the heart, what follows? Job 5:2–5.
“The Scriptures describe the condition of the world just before Christ’s second coming. James the apostle pictures the greed and oppression that will prevail. He says, ‘Go to now, ye rich men, . . . ye have heaped treasure together for the last days. Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth. Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton. Ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter. Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you’ (James 5:1–6). This is a picture of what exists today. By every species of oppression and extortion, men are piling up colossal fortunes, while the cries of starving humanity are coming up before God.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 170.
b. What is the result in cases where wealth is selfishly retained by greedy owners? Ecclesiastes 5:13.
“The natural, covetous, rich man has obtained these riches by grinding down the hireling, and taking advantage of individuals where he could, and adding to his treasure here, that will eat his flesh as it were fire.”—Spiritual Gifts, vol. 2, p. 247.
c. How do wicked people reveal what is in their heart and mind? Psalm 10:3.
“Men in their blindness boast of wonderful progress and enlightenment; but to the eye of Omniscience are revealed the inward guilt and depravity. The heavenly watchers see the earth filled with violence and crime. Wealth is obtained by every species of robbery, not robbery of men only, but of God. Men are using His means to gratify their selfishness. Everything they can grasp is made to minister to their greed. Avarice and sensuality prevail. Men cherish the attributes of the first great deceiver. They have accepted him as God and have become imbued with his spirit.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, pp. 14, 15.
a. The concept of pride is highly valued in this world. How does Scripture describe pride? Proverbs 16:5.
b. What will the Lord do to the proud? Proverbs 15:25; 16:18, 19; Luke 18:14. Describe what the servant of the Lord was shown regarding the outcome of the proud—and how this can be avoided.
“I saw that God hates pride, and that all the proud and all that do wickedly shall be stubble, and the day that cometh shall burn them up. I saw that the third angel’s message must yet work like leaven upon many hearts that profess to believe it, and purge away their pride, selfishness, covetousness, and love of the world.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, pp. 132, 133.
c. Rather than pride, what is seen in the life of the Christian steward? James 4:6.
“All who study the life of Christ and practice His teaching will become like Christ. Their influence will be like His. They will reveal soundness of character. They are established in the faith and will not be overcome by the devil because of vanity and pride. They seek to walk the humble path of obedience, doing the will of God. Their character exerts an influence that tells for the advancement of the cause of God and the healthful purity of His work. . . .
“In these thoroughly converted souls the world has a witness to the sanctifying power of truth upon the human character. Through them Christ makes known to the world His character and will. In the lives of God’s children is revealed the blessedness of serving the Lord, and the opposite is seen in those who do not keep His commandments. The line of demarcation is distinct. All who obey God’s commandments are kept by His mighty power amid the corrupting influence of the transgressors of His law. From the lowliest subject to the highest in positions of trust, they are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.”—Evangelism, pp. 315, 316.
5. THE LOVE OF MONEY
a. What will the love of money bring you? 1 Timothy 6:10; Ecclesiastes 5:10.
“The Bible condemns no man for being rich, if he has acquired his riches honestly. Not money, but the love of money, is the root of all evil. It is God who gives men power to get wealth; and in the hands of him who acts as God’s steward, using his means unselfishly, wealth is a blessing, both to its possessor and to the world. But many, absorbed in their interest in worldly treasures, become insensible to the claims of God and the needs of their fellow men. They regard their wealth as a means of glorifying themselves. They add house to house, and land to land; they fill their homes with luxuries, while all about them are human beings in misery and crime, in disease and death. Those who thus give their lives to self-serving are developing in themselves, not the attributes of God, but the attributes of the wicked one.”—The Ministry of Healing, pp. 212, 213.
b. What is the top priority in the life of every faithful steward? 1 Corinthians 2:2; Matthew 6:33; Luke 9:25.
“When the sinner reaches the cross and looks up to the One who died to save him, he may rejoice with fullness of joy; for his sins are pardoned. Kneeling at the cross, he has reached the highest place to which man can attain.”—The Review and Herald, April 29, 1902.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. How will envy impact your stewardship?
2. What kind of association should you have with persons who do not follow the principles of Christian stewardship?
3. What is the result of living a greedy life?
4. What is to be the basis of your financial decisions?
5. Explain the dangers of becoming preoccupied with material goods.