Sermon Title: Greed vs. Charity: The Quest for Authentic Riches through Generosity 

Date: March 3, 2024 

Venue: Hanfield Global Methodist Church 

Preacher: Derek Trout 

Series: Exploring the 7 Deadly Sins


This discussion probes into the vice of greed, contrasted with the virtue of charity, as part of our examination of the 7 Deadly Sins. It aims to unravel the complexities of greed and illuminate the path toward genuine contentment and spiritual wealth through acts of generosity.

A Cautionary Tale from a Timeless Voyage

Imagine setting sail on the magical ship, the Dawn Treader, venturing into unknown waters and discovering an island where the very essence of temptation lurks in its streams. This island, initially perceived as a haven of wealth due to its miraculous waters that turn anything they touch into gold, is soon revealed to be a place of profound spiritual peril. Named Goldwater Island by its discoverers, its true nature is unveiled through the actions and reactions of those who tread upon its shores, leading the noble Reepicheep to rechristen it as Deathwater Island. This act of renaming signifies a profound acknowledgment of how greed and covetousness transform the human soul, transcending a mere change of title.

Literary Illustration

The Allegory of Deathwater Island

In C.S. Lewis’s “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,” part of the beloved Chronicles of Narnia series, the encounter with Goldwater Island emerges as a pivotal moment, offering a rich allegory for today’s discourse on greed versus charity. The narrative unfolds as the crew of the Dawn Treader, including the valiant Reepicheep, siblings Edmund and Lucy, and their cousin Eustace, encounter this magical island. Their discovery soon tests their bonds and reveals the darker facets of human nature.

The island’s enchanted waters, promising wealth beyond measure, ignite a firestorm of greed among the crew. Eustace, in particular, succumbs to the seduction of greed, his actions serving as a cautionary example of its corrosive effects on the spirit. The discord that erupts among friends grappling with the lure of material gain prompts Reepicheep to rename the island, signaling both a literal and spiritual demise of camaraderie, trust, and moral integrity.

This transformation from Goldwater to Deathwater Island encapsulates the perilous journey from temptation to spiritual desolation, highlighting how the true cost of greed is measured in the erosion of the soul and the decay of cherished relationships rather than in gold. Reepicheep’s wisdom in recognizing this shift reflects a deeper understanding of the virtues that truly enrich our lives, such as integrity, friendship, and generosity of spirit.

Dissecting Greed

Definition: Greed is characterized by an excessive and self-centered desire for more than is needed, particularly in terms of wealth, power, or sustenance, often compromising others’ well-being in the process.

Differentiating Greed and Envy: Greed manifests as the compulsive hoarding of resources, whereas envy desires what belongs to others. Both are disruptive forces that erode contentment and social cohesion.

On the nature of greed versus envy:” Greed really doesn’t care so much about what other people have… it’s concerned with the self of what I want and how much that I want to have. Greed is indifferent towards other people… envy is truly focused on what others have, but greed is focused on what I have and what I can get.”

The destructive power of greed, emphasizes its ability to transform what could be beneficial into a source of conflict and moral decay. Contrasting greed with envy, noting that while envy covets what others possess, greed focuses solely on personal acquisition, often at the expense of meaningful relationships and spiritual well-being.

Greed vs Charity
The Delicate Balance: Weighing the Scales of Greed and Charity Amidst the Diverging Paths of Society.

The Battle Within: Greed versus Charity

The heart of our discussion lies the conflict between greed, a relentless pursuit of personal gain, and charity, the selfless act of giving. Greed ensnares us in a web of indifference, where the value of relationships diminishes before the glitter of material possessions. This is a state where the silent whispers of our desires drown out the cries of those in need, leading us down a path far removed from love.


 Greed undermines the value of personal relationships, fostering indifference, which is identified as the true antithesis of love rather than hate. It serves as an obstacle to forming meaningful connections and deepening existing ones.

On the consequences of greed: “Greed is deadly to established relationships but also prevents new relationships from forming.”

A Biblical Perspective

The Rich Young Ruler’s Dilemma and Scriptural Insights

The story of the rich young ruler, detailed in Luke 18:18-30, offers a compelling examination of the conflict between material wealth and spiritual fulfillment. Jesus confronts the ruler, and by extension, all of us, with a critical question that probes the depths of our hearts: Do we find our worth in the accumulation of wealth and the identity shaped by our possessions? His call to sell everything and give to the poor goes beyond the act of parting with material assets. It’s an invitation to liberate ourselves from the worldly attachments that bind us, pointing us toward the true freedom that comes from complete surrender to the divine.

In this encounter, Jesus’s advice for the ruler to divest himself of his riches and follow the path of righteousness serves as both a directive for financial sacrifice and a profound challenge to reevaluate our true allegiances. The ruler’s inability to comply, leading to his sorrowful departure, highlights a deep-rooted attachment to material possessions that supersedes his desire for spiritual growth and eternal life. This narrative serves as a focal point for reflecting on our own spiritual journeys, urging us to consider whether our pursuit of material wealth hinders our relationship with God and our capacity for spiritual enrichment.

Core Message

This sermon stresses material wealth’s impediment to spiritual advancement and accessing the divine realm. True salvation is found in relinquishing earthly possessions in favor of a life guided by faith and unwavering devotion to God.

 Identity and Possessions

The Rich Young Ruler finds his identity in his wealth, illustrating how possessions can define a person’s sense of self and purpose. The challenge Jesus presents extends beyond giving up physical wealth to include surrendering one’s identity and security found in material possessions.

The Rich Ruler’s Predicament

Analysis: The ruler’s hesitation to follow Jesus’ counsel may stem from a blend of greed, fear of losing material comfort, and trepidation about the unknown.

From the story of the rich young ruler: “Jesus was calling the Rich Young Ruler to give up more than just stuff… He was calling him to give up the things in which he had found his identity… it’s where he’s come to find his identity and likely also his hope and his meaning.”

 “Jesus was calling the Rich Young Ruler to give up more than just stuff…he was calling him to give up the things in which he had found his identity.”

On the spiritual challenge of wealth: “Jesus looked at him and said, ‘How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.'”

This narrative illustrates the profound difficulty wealth can pose to spiritual devotion and pursuing the kingdom of God. The pastor highlights that Jesus’ request encompasses more than relinquishing material wealth; it involves surrendering one’s identity and security found in worldly possessions for a treasure in heaven.

“our security, according to Jesus, is in our relationship with God, and in His hands lie our future.” This statement emphasizes the core message of the sermon, which is a call to place one’s hope and faith in God rather than in transient worldly possessions. The speaker further asserts, “What Jesus was really calling the Rich Young Ruler to was freedom – freedom from being enslaved by your possessions,” highlighting the liberating aspect of faith in God over materialism.

The Illusion of Winning with Wealth

The speaker mentions the adage, “whoever dies with the most toys wins,” to critique the fallacy that accumulating wealth and possessions leads to ultimate victory in life. This perspective is contrasted with the spiritual poverty it actually engenders.

“Whoever dies with the most wins…in doing so they have lost their soul.”

The Illusion of Consumerism

In our society, the glorification of acquiring goods and services beyond our necessities fosters a culture where personal worth is increasingly tied to material possessions. This relentless drive towards consumerism perpetuates the misconception that happiness and fulfillment are commodities that can be purchased. However, this belief starkly contrasts with the truth that genuine contentment and the satisfaction of our deepest desires can only be found through a meaningful relationship with God. This narrative reflects contemporary consumerist culture, where the markers of success and joy are often linked to the accumulation of material wealth, prompting an unending chase for more. Such a pursuit is emblematic of greed’s futility and inherent emptiness, highlighting consumerism’s illusory nature as a path to true happiness.

Consumerism’s Empty Promises

The culture of consumerism is critiqued for perpetuating the sin of greed by constantly encouraging individuals to acquire more. This relentless pursuit is likened to being on a stair master at the gym – a lot of effort that leads nowhere fulfilling.

“We live in a consumeristic culture where every company…encourages us to indulge in the deadly sin of greed.”

The sermon also tackles the broader cultural context of consumerism, pointing out its pervasive influence in encouraging greed and wealth accumulation. The speaker challenges this worldview by asserting that “greed and consumerism never deliver on their promises” and that true fulfillment can only be found in God. This is supported by Blaise Pascal’s notion of an “infinite abyss” within each person that can only be filled by God, not by material goods.

Pursuing Genuine Satisfaction

In our unending quest for happiness, we often find ourselves captivated by the allure of material possessions, achievements, and the temporary pleasures the world offers. This journey, deeply embedded in the human experience, consistently leaves us with a sense of emptiness and restlessness, highlighting the transient nature of such pursuits. Blaise Pascal, the eminent 17th-century philosopher and theologian, insightfully observed that this universal quest is ultimately futile unless directed towards the divine. He proposed that within each person lies a profound abyss, a void no temporal joy can fill, pointing instead to the need for an infinite and immutable source of fulfillment—God Himself.

Pascal’s reflections shed light on the “God-shaped vacuum” within us all, an innate longing that material wealth and worldly achievements can never satisfy. This spiritual hunger, he suggests, signals our more profound need for a connection with the eternal, a relationship founded on faith and the solace found in God’s love. Here, in the divine embrace, we discover the true wellspring of joy and contentment. We open a path of hope and transformation by embracing Pascal’s assertion that genuine satisfaction and lasting happiness are achievable only through a profound relationship with God. This journey towards divine fulfillment invites us to redirect our pursuits, seeking solace and satisfaction in the eternal embrace of God, the ultimate source of all joy and fulfillment, rather than in the fleeting.

 The Infinite Abyss

Blaise Pascal’s concept of an “infinite abyss” that God can only fill is used to articulate the emptiness that material possessions cannot satisfy. This idea emphasizes the spiritual vacuum that consumerism fails to address.

“There’s an infinite Abyss…that can only be filled by an infinite and immutable object, that is to say, only by God Himself.”

Augustine’s Insight

In our spiritual odyssey toward understanding the essence of true happiness and fulfillment, Augustine of Hippo offers a pivotal reflection that illuminates the heart of our restlessness. His enduring words, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in God,” capture the core of the human experience — a deep, pervasive restlessness that material wealth and earthly pleasures cannot alleviate. This journey towards divine fulfillment invites us to redirect our pursuits toward the eternal embrace of God, the ultimate source of all joy and fulfillment, moving away from the fleeting and into solace and satisfaction.

Augustine’s insight into our restless hearts confronts the illusion that material possessions or worldly success can offer lasting happiness. Instead, he directs us toward the realization that our true contentment is found in aligning our lives with the divine. In this alignment, turning our hearts towards God, we discover the peace that transcends worldly understanding. Augustine’s journey from a life marked by worldly pursuits to one of profound spiritual devotion exemplifies the transformative power of finding rest in God. He invites us to acknowledge our restlessness as a sign of our more profound spiritual aspirations and embark on a journey of reorientation toward God.

Therefore, let us embrace Augustine’s wisdom as a beacon guiding us through our restlessness. By recognizing that our hearts yearn for something beyond the temporal, we open ourselves to the peace and fulfillment that come from resting in God. This spiritual reorientation goes beyond quelling our restlessness, transforming it into a journey of divine discovery, where every longing heart finds its ultimate rest and satisfaction in the embrace of the Creator. Augustine’s reflection provides both insight and a promise: in God, our restless hearts find their home, their purpose, and their joy.

The Wealth Conundrum

Luke 18:24-25 Reflection: Jesus comments on the formidable challenge wealthy individuals face in entering God’s kingdom, likening it to a camel passing through the eye of a needle. This metaphor signifies the transformative power of God in achieving what seems humanly impossible.

The Role of Material Wealth: The peril arises when wealth dominates us, turning into idols that detract from our dependence on God rather than merely possessing it.

The Danger for the Wealthy

The speaker reflects on Jesus’ words about the difficulty for the rich to enter the kingdom of God, emphasizing the spiritual risk of placing trust in wealth over God. The analogy of a camel passing through the eye of a needle illustrates the improbability of entering God’s kingdom when burdened by wealth.

The Eye of the Needle: Interpreting Spiritual Humility and Dependence

The metaphor of the “Eye of the Needle,” as presented by Jesus, embodies a profound spiritual lesson on humility, detachment from material wealth, and the essence of true dependence on God. This imagery, which might allude to either a literal needle or a narrow gate in Jerusalem, emphasizes the challenging journey of prioritizing spiritual wealth over earthly riches as prerequisites for entry into the divine kingdom. It highlights the necessity of embracing humility and the willingness to part with material possessions, often hindering our spiritual path.

Further reflecting on this metaphor, Jesus’s teachings about the camel and the eye of the needle emerge as a powerful reminder of the dangers of misplaced trust in material abundance. In a wealth-rich society, the real test lies in the locus of our trust, extending beyond merely our possessions. Echoing the Apostle Paul’s exhortation in Colossians 3:5-11 to “put to death” our earthly desires, this metaphor invites a profound reevaluation of our dependencies. It’s a stark call to redirect our hearts and hopes toward God, the sole source of true security and fulfillment. This teaching challenges us to examine where our allegiances lie, urging a shift from reliance on transient, worldly wealth to an unshakeable trust in divine providence and grace.

“Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

Hebrews 13:5-6 Summary: We are admonished to live free from the allure of money, finding contentment in our current blessings, with the assurance that God will never abandon us, offering true security and hope.


Assessing Our Spiritual Anchor

Self-Examination: Reflect on the foundation of your hope—does it reside in worldly achievements or nurturing a profound relationship with Jesus?

The Essence of Generosity: True generosity emerges from a heart transformed by divine love, transcending mere acts of giving to address the underlying greed.

Final Reflection: Money itself is neutral, yet the excessive love for it leads to sin. As followers of Christ, we are called to distinguish between our needs and desires, anchoring our hope and security in Jesus, the source of authentic fulfillment and happiness.

Salvation and Surrender

So, who can be saved? This rhetorical question reverberates through the ages, reminding us that salvation lies beyond human capability and firmly within the realm of divine possibility. True riches and possession stem from a reliance on God, who promises never to leave nor forsake us, rather than from our own efforts.

On the possibility of salvation: “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”

The Heart of the Matter: Rightly Placed Hope

To live a life free from the grip of greed, we must anchor our hope in the right place. Jesus’s teachings, which notably include parables addressing money and possessions, highlight the importance of valuing God above all. The danger arises from the love of money displacing our dependence on God rather than the wealth itself.

A Call to Reflective Action

As we navigate the treacherous waters of greed and consumerism, let us be guided by the beacon of charity and the selfless love it embodies. May we find the courage to relinquish what binds us, embrace the freedom offered through Christ, and place our trust and hope in the eternal riches of God’s kingdom. Let this journey of reflection lead us to a deeper understanding and a more profound commitment to living a life marked by generosity, love, and dependence on God alone.

In closing, the pastor’s message serves as a reminder of the Christian call to prioritize spiritual riches over earthly wealth, highlighting faith’s transformative power to overcome greed’s insidious grip.

Bullet point format

  • Title: Greed vs. Charity: The Quest for Authentic Riches through Generosity
  • Date: March 3, 2024
  • Venue: Hanfield Global Methodist Church
  • Preacher: Derek Trout
  • Series: Exploring the 7 Deadly Sins


  • Examination of greed vs. charity within the 7 Deadly Sins.
  • Unraveling the complexities of greed to highlight the path to genuine contentment through generosity.

A Cautionary Tale from a Timeless Voyage:

  • Allegorical reference to C.S. Lewis’s “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.”
  • The transformation of Goldwater Island to Deathwater Island as a metaphor for the soul’s corruption by greed.

Literary Illustration:

  • The narrative of the Dawn Treader’s encounter with the island as a rich allegory for greed vs. charity.
  • The impact of greed on camaraderie, trust, and moral integrity.

Dissecting Greed:

  • Definition of greed as excessive and self-centered desire.
  • Differentiation between greed and envy; greed’s focus on self-acquisition at others’ expense.

The Battle Within: Greed versus Charity:

  • The contrast between the relentless pursuit of personal gain (greed) and the selfless act of giving (charity).
  • The implications of greed on personal relationships and societal cohesion.

A Biblical Perspective:

  • The story of the rich young ruler as an exploration of material wealth vs. spiritual fulfillment.
  • Jesus’s invitation to surrender worldly attachments for divine freedom.
  • Core Message:
  • The impediment of material wealth to spiritual advancement.
  • Salvation through faith and devotion to God, beyond earthly possessions.

The Wealth Conundrum:

  • Reflection on the challenge wealthy individuals face in prioritizing spiritual wealth.
  • The metaphor of a camel passing through the eye of a needle illustrating the difficulty of entering God’s kingdom with earthly burdens.


  • Reflection on the foundational source of hope.
  • The essence of true generosity as a counter to greed.
  • The importance of distinguishing between needs and desires, anchoring hope in Jesus.
  • Encouragement for reflective action to embrace a life marked by generosity, love, and dependence on God.

This bulleted format provides a concise and structured overview of the sermon, making it accessible for readers to grasp the key points and themes. It can be used as a supplementary guide alongside the detailed writeup or as a standalone summary for quick reference.


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