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Greed can breed other sins

In his warning against rich people, James notes that these people did not only hoard wealth for themselves, but that in doing so they indulged in other sins (James 5:1-6). In their pursuit of wealth, they committed murder, injustice, oppression, selfishness, and corruption. In the same line, since the essence of greed is an excessive desire for more, ungratefulness, and discontentment always accompany it. In the passage, James mentions that these sins drew his audience farther from repentance, and they must now weep for their coming judgement. Just like James’ audience, greed can drag one to a place farther than they were willing to go, and the consequences can be greater than ever imagined.

Greed can distort interpersonal relationships

Continuing with James 5:1-6, it is observable that the addressees’ greedy way of living had greatly injured their own relationships and standing with part of the community (v.4). In the chase for “the more to be achieved”, these people became so unconcerned and inconsiderate of the interests of others. Greed usually makes one do all they can to satisfy self (me, myself, and I), regardless of the injuries it can cause on others. Before talking about Christ’s Kenosis (Philippians 2:5-8), Paul provided two admonitions to the Philippian Christians: In 2:3 he said “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.” In 2:4 he added “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” This, Paul said, would be achieved by “letting the mind which was also in Christ be in you” (2:5ff), that is, imitating Christ.

Greed can be injurious to one’s own health

Most of the time this looks a lot less like the pronouncement on Gehazi in 2Kings 5:26-27, but more like the piercings that Paul talks about in Timothy 6:10. We have argued at length on the accumulation of things due to greed. On the flip side, when one’s greedy desires are for some reason not met, piercings such as frustration, anger, bitterness, anxiety, depression, hardheartedness, can often plunge their heart. These can be injurious to a person’s life. Just to be clear, I am not suggesting that greed is the only and always cause of these weights. I am not proposing either that we should start tagging all people who are struggling with such weights as greedy. There are plenty of unrelated things out there that can weigh you and I down. Genuinely engaging, and getting into somebody’s shoes can be a great way to learn about their particular situation and therefore knowing how best to pray and help them.

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