A tale passed down the generations offers an enlightening lesson. It goes like this:
Once upon a time, a white knight seeking adventure found a village where legend told of an ogre in a pit. Several courageous men had climbed into the pit, but none returned.
The white knight declared he would battle the terrible ogre.
He noticed the pit’s narrow opening and stripped himself of armor and unnecessary clothing. He took only a long dagger, which he tied around his neck with a leather strap, and lowered himself into the hole.
Soon he felt the chamber’s cool, smooth floor. It took several minutes for his eyes to adjust to the darkness, but he focused on a large mound. He noticed his predecessors’ bones, along with their assorted weapons.
Suddenly, the pit’s inhabitant surprised him. He didn’t anticipate that the ogre would be as tall as a rabbit. The ogre waved his arms and screeched with its squeaky voice, trying to appear as fierce as possible.
The white knight picked up a sword from the floor and prepared for battle, but quick as a rat, the ogre scurried into a hole.
The white knight followed, and soon happened upon a mound of grapefruit-sized balls of gold and plum-sized diamonds.
The little ogre lost its importance in view of this great treasure.
However, the white knight had a problem. How would he carry it out of the hole? He had no pockets. Who would believe him if he didn’t bring back at least one piece?
Hurriedly, he chose a large diamond that fit comfortably in his mouth, and he began the strenuous climb out of the pit.
His tongue held the diamond tightly against the roof of his mouth. He climbed higher and higher until the heavy exertion rendered him breathless. He would have to breathe through his mouth to get enough air. As he took in a large gulp of air the diamond slipped and stuck in his throat.
The white knight choked on his treasure, lost consciousness and fell to his death on the mound of bones below.
You see, the terrible ogre in the pit was no troll — it was greed.
1 Timothy 6:9 says, “But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.”
Consider what drives you. If you find the glitter of this world is more attractive to you than Jesus Christ’s love and grace, you may be heading for a terrible fall.
That would be tragic.
The Rev. Mark Broadhead is Laurel Hill Presbyterian Church and First Presbyterian Church of Crestview’s pastor.