The Bible's Take on Greed
Greed is Good... for Nothing
By Hannah Goodwyn
The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge has marked the upward surge of mankind.
– Gordon Gekko, Wall Street
Michael Douglas personified greed as Gordon Gekko, the money-hungry antagonist in the 1987 movie, Wall Street. His famous “Greed is Good” speech perfectly encapsulates the danger in American Dream thinking. The lifestyle of this beloved/hated character illustrates utter selfishness, yet it intrigues us as we seek our own fortunes.
Recalling this movie scene, I battled my own bit of greed while driving home yesterday. A lottery billboard on the side of the interstate unearthed buried thoughts of greed I didn’t know existed.
290 million dollars. That’s the state’s lotto jackpot, at the moment. It has steadily increased during the past few weeks, and each time I’ve driven past it, thoughts of what I could do with that kind of money flood my mind. At almost 300 million, my wish list could be extensive and not even make a dent in my over-stuffed bank account. I could get:
- My dream cars: A brand new, silver Aston Martin DB9 (James Bond's sports car), a bright red 1968 Ford Mustang,
- My dream house: A custom-built Craftsman bungalow
- My dream vacation: A 'round the world in 80 days adventure travel package (first-class, of course)
- My dream boat: A 60' sailing yacht with crew (I don't know a thing about sailing)
- ,,,and more.
In the midst of my vetted list of wants, ideas of how I could give some of the money away comes up when I’ve driven by that billboard. I would:
- Pay off all of the college debt in my family
- Sponsor 1,000 well digs
- Donate to missionary friends who live around the world
As I contemplated what to buy and how much to give away, I quickly realized I was planning my life with money I did not have. Seeing that prize money billboard got me to thinking about actually buying a lottery ticket. That greed seed grew as I considered gambling away my money with the long-shot chance of winning. I’ve never gambled to get a quick buck, but the dream of having a large bank account is a nice thought. And I’m willing to bet that some of you have as well.
In my humanness, I mentally justified my need for an abundance of cash. Sure, I would get a few toys, but "God, I would totally donate money to people in need". Problem is, am I doing that now, with what He’s already given me?
What the Bible Says about Greed
The Bible instructs us to be good stewards of God’s provision (no matter what tax bracket we are in), instead of wishing for more. It’s one thing to trust the Lord to provide all of our needs in unique ways; it’s another when we’re coveting riches.
Greed brings grief to the whole family… Proverbs 15:27
Greedy people try to get rich quick, but don't realize they're headed for poverty. Proverbs 28:22 (This makes sense considering the bankruptcies lotto winners experience after winning more money then they can handle).
And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your soul? Mark 8:36
Then he said, "Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own." Luke 12:15
Our God, “who owns the cattle on a thousand hills” (Ps. 50:10), has rightly blessed many with wealth. So having money isn’t the problem. It is the love of money that corrupts, as explained in I Timothy.
But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows. I Timothy 6:9-10
Be a Giver, Not a Hoarder
My parents didn’t raise me to be a greedy person. But I must confess, I tend to lean toward holding money instead of giving it freely. Realizing my disobedience (according these scriptures), my prayer this year is “God, give me clear opportunities to be a giver, instead of a hoarder.”
Give generously to the poor, not grudgingly, for the LORD your God will bless you in everything you do. Deuteronomy 15:10
Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it's in your power to help them. Proverbs 3:27
Some people are always greedy for more, but the godly love to give! Proverbs 21:26
Whoever gives to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to poverty will be cursed. Proverbs 28:27
Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can't take anything with us when we leave it. So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content. I Timothy 6:6-8
Hannah Goodwyn serves as the Family and Entertainment producer for CBN.com. For more articles and information, visit Hannah's bio page.
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