Sep 2 2016


_DSC9709People love hummingbirds. I’m not so sure, however, that the two hummingbirds I have visiting my feeders love each other.  I’ve been watching them the past few weeks and one of the two absolutely will not let the other one feed.  If it sees the other hummingbird anywhere close to the feeders it will dive bomb it and harass it until it leaves.  What I find interesting about this is the fact that I have two feeders.  There is more than enough sugar water available for them.  Each bird could have its very own feeder but the dominant bird doesn’t want to share.  Aren’t you glad that we humans aren’t like that?

As I’m sure you already know, that last line was written “tongue in cheek.” I am afraid the hummingbird behavior I’ve been observing recently is not all that different from the human behavior we observe from time to time between nations, in the halls of Congress, in places of business, and even in churches.  Selfishness and greed have a way of raising their ugly heads just about anywhere you look.  Fussing and fighting, well-known side effects of selfishness and greed, have a way of breaking out wherever humans interact.  In fact, it seems like this has become the norm rather than the exception.

_DSC9702God certainly had a different plan for us. In Psalm 133:1 David said “How good and pleasant it is when brothers [and sisters] live together in unity.”  That is God’s goal for us and should be our goal as well.  If that is going to take place we must learn to share.  The Scriptures certainly have a lot to say about sharing.  Hebrews 13:16 says “And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” One of the messages John the Baptizer delivered was: “If you have two shirts, give one to the poor. If you have food, share it with those who are hungry.” (Luke 3:11)  The writer of First John raised this poignant question, “If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion how can God’s love be in that person?” (3:17)  Luke described the early church this way: “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.” (Acts 4:32)

_DSC9667My hummingbird’s refusal to share could prove quite detrimental to the other bird. Our failure to share, likewise, can come with dire consequences.  In some instances it is truly a life or death matter.  As children we often received instructions on the importance of sharing.  Here lately, I’m thinking we may all need a refresher course.


(I took the pictures shown here in my yard the last couple of days.)

Apr 3 2013

Greed and Nature

JI311For centuries there has been a list of sins known as the Seven Deadly Sins.  There is certainly a sense in which all sin is “deadly” but the church has historically recognized some sins to be especially deadly.  One of the Seven Deadly Sins is greed.  You hear a lot about greed these days.  Many people feel that our country’s current economic crisis has greed at its roots.  Greed, however, has been a problem for humans ever since the beginning.  The Bible warns of its dangers repeatedly.

JI329Basically, greed is the selfish desire for more than one actually needs.  We probably think foremost of money when it comes to greed but there are many other areas where greed raises its ugly head.  Recently I came across some insightful words that reminded me of the role greed has played in the environmental crisis.  In his classic work, The Nature and Destiny of Man, theologian Reinhold Niebuhr wrote, “Man’s sense of dependence upon nature and his reverent gratitude toward the miracle of nature’s perennial abundance is destroyed by his arrogant sense of independence and his greedy effort to overcome the insecurity of nature’s rhythms and seasons by garnering her stores with excessive zeal and beyond natural requirements.  Greed is in short the expression of man’s inordinate ambition to hide his insecurity in nature.”

JI361Human greed is revealed in our hoarding and overusing nature’s resources.  The result is that we now find ourselves in a precarious situation.  We are quickly learning that there is no endless supply of natural resources.  Much of our energy usage comes from nonrenewal forms of energy.  We are also learning more and more that there is a price to be paid for the way we have garnered nature’s “stores with excessive zeal.”   Greed truly does come with a high price tag.  When you consider how greed has led rich nations to hoard natural resources, which has in turn caused strife in poorer nations who struggle to survive, that price tag gets even higher.

JI549It is imperative that we all root out the greed that is in our lives.  Greed is destructive and deadly on many different levels.  In Colossians 3 the apostle Paul told the church at Colossae to “put to death” such sins as greed, lust and anger.  He then went on to encourage them to clothe themselves “with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (v. 12)  If we are going to avoid the “death” that greed brings to our lives and to the natural world, we must replace it with virtues like those Paul spoke of.  We have got to learn to live unselfishly, to practice love and self-control.  It won’t be easy, nor will it always be the popular thing to do, but it is by all means the right thing to do.


(I took the four images shown here at Jekyll Island on my recent trip to Georgia.)