Allow me to share an e-mail a pastor-friend sent to me which, at the risk of oversimplification, graphically illustrated through a funny monkey parable how the global financial crisis came about: “There was a village near a forest teeming with monkeys. Then a businessman visited them to announce that he would buy monkeys for US$10 per head. The villagers went out to the forest and started catching monkeys. The man bought thousands. But, as the supply started to dwindle, the villagers’ enthusiasm waned. The man then announced that he would now buy monkeys at double the price. Thus, with fresh gusto, the villagers started catching monkeys again for $20 apiece. Soon the monkey population diminished even further. The offer increased to $25. But it was really an effort to even catch a glimpse of a monkey, let alone catch it! Again, the man announced that he would double the price. Each monkey would now be worth $50 each! However, since he had to go to the city on some business, his assistant would now act as buyer on his behalf. While the businessman was away, the assistant whispered to the villagers: ‘Look at all these monkeys in the big cage that the man has collected. I will sell them to you at $35 and when he returns from the city, you can sell them back to him for $50.’ The villagers agreed to connive with the assistant. They squeezed together their life savings and bought all the monkeys. Then they never saw the man or his assistant again… only monkeys everywhere!”

Moral lesson? While maybe not all who got badly hit by the crisis succumbed to greed, many did. Simply put, they bought houses they don’t need with money they don’t have to impress people they don’t like. I even read that since their employers won’t certify the bloated salary figures they wrote on their loan application, the borrowers signed what was dubbed as “liar’s form.” Such is the cost of greed. And now globally we are paying for it. That’s why Colossians 3:5 commands us, “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you [such as] covetousness, which is idolatry.” (ESV) Greed does not pay. We may end up holding an empty bag, or worse, having monkeys everywhere. We may commit the same mistake if we fail to live within our means. Contentment is still the way to go.

Brethren, let us live greed-free so we will be guilt-free!


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