The sin of greed can as well creep into a believer’s life. Believers are as well encouraged to guard against the temptation of greed. The scriptures charge that both in their personal walk and ministry, believers must distance themselves from greedy desires. Let us dig more.
Greed can compromise one’s Christian walk
In instructing Timothy, Paul provided an example of some people (believers?) who had abandoned the faith in their pursuit of money. He wrote: “People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” (1 Tim 6:9-10). Whether or not these people were saved may be debatable and obviously a question for another time. One thing is clear here though; they had started (at least some sort of) a walk toward [into] the Christian life, but because of covetous desires, they plunged into a great apostasy. Since Paul does not state explicitly who these people are, two possibilities could emerge here. (1) These could be believers who found themselves in a very compromised state because of their love of money. (2) This could be a category of people equivalent to those referred to by Jesus in Mark 4:18-19: Those who hear the Word of God but allow the cares of this world and the love for wealth and money to choke it, hence making the Word unfruitful in their lives. In any case, Paul is showing us the devastating impact of greedy desires on one’s spiritual life. Elsewhere, Paul also warned the Ephesians to not let their lives be marked by a continual lust for more. He stressed that such a disposition is characteristic of a pagan’s way of life (Eph.4:17-19). To the Colossians he charged; “Put to death therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: Sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, and greed, which is idolatry (Col. 3:5). Notice that Paul considers greed as a form of idolatry. Since this warning was addressed to believers, it is safe to conclude that the temptation of greed can as well creep into a believer’s life.
Greed can distort and distract our service to God
In 1Samuel 2:27-36, we find a story of the two sons of Eli whose priestly ministry the LORD ended because of their greed for the best parts of the sacrifices. In verse 29 we read: “why do you scorn my sacrifice and offering that I prescribed for my dwelling? Why do you honor your sons more than me by fattening yourselves on the choice parts of every offering made by my people Israel?” It is interesting to see greed manifesting itself outside of money and material possessions. Phineas and Hophni violated the LORD’s prescriptions in Leviticus 7:30-34. They failed to stay within their allotment and greedily began to reach for that which was due only to God. We can see from here that in essence and a lot of times, greed looks at God and His provisions as “not enough”. Greed also lamentably turns the direction of one’s ministry on its head: instead of glorifying God, a minister aggrandizes self.
Elsewhere, we may be familiar with the story of the healing of Naaman in 2 Kings 5:1-19. Connected to that story is another interesting story of Gehazi, a servant of prophet Elisha. As the story goes, Elisha refused to take anything from the “thank you” token that had come with Naaman for his healing. Well, Gehazi had different thoughts. He said, “My master is being too easy on Naaman…by not accepting from him what he brought. As surely as the LORD lives, I will run after him and get something from him. (2Kings 5:20). Escaping from his master with attempted trickery, and lying to Naaman and his entourage, Gehazi went on to claim some of the possessions. Sadly, it would not be long before his ministry crashed: He would no longer minister before Elisha, and a great physical ailment befell him.
Going back to Paul’s instructions and guidelines to a young minister Timothy, he is emphatic that a minister must distance himself from a life of making material gain his focus. In 1Timothy 3:3, 8, 6:11 he warns the minister against the love of money.
Even in our today’s materialistic society, the call to guard against greed of any kind cannot be overemphasized. Like Phineas and Hophni, for a piece of fat but in form of money, fame, luxury, possessions, influence and positions, a lot of us have trampled on God’s Word and commands. Even worse, a lot of us have gone an extra mile by using God’s Word to gain that which our heart lustfully and greedily desires. Like Gehazi, a lot of us masquerade – using places and positions of ministry to manipulate others in order to meet our own greedy desires.