Greed doesn’t play fair. The sad thing is we’re the ones who get cheated the most by it. In 1986, former model and actor Russell Christoff posed for a photo shoot with Nestlé. He was promised $2,000 if his picture was used with a product. Christoff received $250 and went on with his life, thinking the company had decided not to use his picture.

What Christoff didn’t know was that Nestlé had been using his picture on its Canadian Taster’s Choice coffee labels without telling him. Between 1997 and 2003, his image was also being used on labels in the US and several other countries. When he spotted his picture on one of the labels, Christoff brought the matter to court. Nestlé offered to settle for $100,000, but he refused. Instead he demanded an $8.5-million-dollar settlement. Nestlé refused to pay this amount.

In court, the jury awarded Christoff $15.6 million — $330,000 for the use of his image, and $15.3 million for damages equal to 5 percent of the profit from Taster’s Choice sales during the six-year period.

But Russell Christoff’s sudden wealth was short-lived. On June 29, 2007, the California Court of Appeals reversed the jury award against Nestlé, and Christoff lost his money. Instead of accepting an amount equal to 50 times more than Nestlé had first promised to pay him ($2,000), Christoff had to have more. Greed cheated him out of the money he could have had and left him with nothing.

Greed is a hard master to please. It always sees there is more to be had and is never satisfied with what it gets. In the end, it leaves us empty. Is there a solution? Yes, we need to accept who we are and what we have in Christ. Only when we see ourselves as loved by God will we stop craving love from others; only when we see ourselves as accepted by God will we stop living to please people; only when we understand that we have eternal treasures in Heaven will we stop trying to gain more riches on Earth; only when we realize God is all we need will we stop setting our hearts on the things that we want. Commit your desires to God, and trust Him to take care of you. Don’t let greed cheat you out of a blessing.

Devotional by Dr. James A. Scudder