The fable is told of a greedy fox who was gorging himself on an animal he had killed. As he ate, a bone stuck in his throat, and he could not swallow it. The pain was so excruciating that the fox ran around and around seeking relief. He promised he would give anything if someone would remove the bone from his throat. He tried to get all the animals he met to remove the bone, but not one dared. Finally the crane agreed to try. The fox opened his mouth as wide as he could, and the crane stuck its long beak down his throat, loosened the bone, and pulled it out.
The crane asked for the promised reward, but the fox grinned wickedly and replied: “Be content. You have put your head into a fox’s mouth and taken it out again safely. That ought to be reward enough for you.” The moral of the story is, “Gratitude and greed do not go together.”
The fox certainly pictures the person who is continually grasping for things, perhaps making a show of gratitude or thankfulness, then continuing in ungratefulness.
How many young people have you met who were like the fox? They were only too happy to ask for help when they had a desperate need. However, when you helped them they showed little or no gratitude. You felt used and unappreciated.
What Is Greed?
In the Bible, “greed” is often called covetousness. The English word comes from a Latin word meaning cupidity or desire. People want what they want, when they want it, in whatever way they can get it. They will run over other people and disrespect them in their greedy quest for what they want.
Covetousness or greed involves many areas of life. People are greedy for material possessions and money. They may cheat, lie, steal, and even murder to get the things they want. When they get it, they repeat the vicious cycle to get even more. Greed often controls sexual desire. People will do whatever they can to fulfill their desires, even if it means ruining another’s marriage to get it or using another person only to hate and discard that person after they have what they want. The Bible often links greed and immorality together and condemns them. “No whoremonger [immoral person], nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God” (Ephesians 5:5).
What is the Solution to Greed?
We must beware that we be not guilty of greed and ingratitude as was the fox. Greed is sin and rebellion against God and against other people. Fleeing from greed and ingratitude will dramatically improve our relationship with other people and, most of all, with God. Taking God’s way will bring us peace and satisfaction and will give us purpose for living. Greed will be replaced by respect and appreciation for others and thankfulness to God for changing our lives. Greed will be replaced by generosity and gratitude that reach out to help others and please God.
Genuine gratitude and greed cannot exist side by side in one person. Gratitude can come only from a heart and mind that is changed and rooted in the things of God. “Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:1, 2).
May we not join the masses around us who live in greed and selfishness. “Let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful” (Colossians 3:15).