We’ve all heard it before; needs versus wants and the potential of an imbalanced life when enough is no longer enough. But if you are like me, it is often easy to discount those feelings in ourselves. We justify why we need things or why two is better than one. And as much as we don’t like to admit it, this ugly little trait can quickly create an imbalanced life. This little trait isn’t really little though, and it is important to recognize it before it takes over. This nasty trait that creates imbalances in our life is simply outlined by one word; greed.
Greed is defined by Merriam-Webster, as “a selfish and excessive desire for more of something than is needed. I would like to think I don’t have a “selfish and excessive desire of something, but the truth of the matter really comes to light when we look at the rest of the definition. The part that tells us that greed is the “desire for more of something than is needed.” I’m not sure any of us can truthfully claim that we have never desired for more of something than is needed, no matter what our financial level may be. Greed can rear its ugly little head in many areas such as food, money, power, possessions, and even time. When we don’t recognize it and put a stop to it, our life can quickly spiral to imbalanced realms.
The Prison of an Imbalanced Life
It seems humans are not the only living things that allow greed to consume them. I read earlier this week about a family that observed a fascinating lesson from hummingbirds. They had put up a hummingbird feeder with four feeding stations. It didn’t take long before it became popular with the hummingbirds that lived in the area. The feeder was so attractive that it needed refilling at least once a day as two, three, and sometimes even four birds would feed at one time.
But suddenly, they noticed that the need to refill the feeder decreased to almost nothing. Filling it only once a week and sometimes longer became the normal routine. They were concerned about the birds and wondered if there was a problem. But it wasn’t long after some serious observations that they realized the issue.
There was a male hummingbird that decided the feeder was his personal property as he was the only bird that was using it. He would feed and then sit in a nearby tree, ready and rising to attack any other bird that approached his feeder. His guard duty became his soul purpose and occupied his every waking moment. He was a very effective and efficient guard as the only time another bird got to use the feeder was when the self-appointed owner was chasing away another intruder.
The male hummingbird with his selfish and excessive desire for more of the sweet nectar gave up his freedom in his obsessive behavior to assume the ownership of the food source. He could no longer come and go as he pleased because he was tied to the work of guarding the feeder, his personally acclaimed “stuff.” His greed took over and he became possessed by his possession, throwing life into the realms of imbalanced chaos.
Greed, Not Me?
Perhaps, however, it is easy for us to say, “But I am not like that.” I think none of us like to see the ugly behavior of recognized greed, even if we only experience it in secret. But it is easy to get carried away if we find ourselves in a position to gain more, especially if there is little effort that must be exhibited on our part or a severe hardship isn’t created because of our strong desire.
Just the other day, I ran to the grocery store to pick up a few things. This is not my favorite activity and so I try to limit trips. My few things turned into quite a bit more than a few things as I justified buying not one, but two of things along with some stuff that wasn’t on my list but that I might need in the future. I think, however, where I really saw my greed surface was in the frozen fruit section. I love black cherries and it just so happened that not only were packs of black cherries available, they were also on sale. Not one to pass on a good deal, I found myself loading up on cherries so I could have an abundance of the delectable fruits in the future. I became a bit imbalanced as I garnered the bags of fruit. Did I need 3 bags of cherries? No, I allowed my wants to take over my needs and herein lies the root of greed.
Proper Measurements to Avoid an Imbalanced Life
We might like to think that the good things in life involve having a lot of money or power but the truly good things in life have nothing to do with either. Accumulating wealth, possessions, or power can actually imprison us, like the hummingbird, creating a severe imbalanced life if it is not caught soon enough. For when we allow our trust to be placed in these things, our focus on the truly important things of life fall to the wayside. If it is a fulfilled life, we seek, then our trust must be placed in a relationship with our Creator along with doing His work. Because in the end, our life on earth is not measured by what we own.
Then He said, “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.”Luke 12:15 (NLT)
Finding Balance with Needs Versus Wants
It is important for us all to recognize the difference between what we need and what we want. Because there is peace found in having all we need to live but only turmoil can come from the anxiousness and discontent by an imbalanced life of allowing our wants to take over. It is not wrong to have more than we need unless the desire overwhelms us until we withhold necessary resources from neighbors near and far. It is, however, important to be aware and act quickly when we see that our wants are taking over our lives and our satisfaction can’t find enough.
When our wants take over, creating an imbalanced life, a form of idolatry becomes prevalent and we deny God His rightful place as we put these things, whatever they are, over our Creator. Because ultimately recognizing and planning for eternity is the most important thing that we should ever have an excessive desire for.
So, let us all recognize when we allow wants to make our life become imbalanced. Let us take the challenge to know when enough is truly enough, no matter what we may be talking about. Allow our convictions to be rooted in remembering fully that life is not measured by what we own, but what we have done with all that we are given. Let us find motivation in creating a careful balance in our lives between our needs and wants. And above all, find comfort in the knowledge that the real rewards in life come from knowing and trusting our Creator intimately. For when our greed is in control an imbalanced life becomes balanced.
Love in Christ,
Greed is a bottomless pit which exhausts the person in an endless effort to satisfy the need without ever reaching satisfaction.Erich Fromm
What Are Your Thoughts?
Have you ever recognized an imbalance in your life when you allow greed to rear its ugly head? Do you try to balance your needs and wants? Share your thoughts and or the experiences in your life when greed sneaks in and results in an imbalanced life.