Part 1.

“Greed” is interchangeably used with “Covetousness” in some translations. In the Zondervan Illustrated Bible Dictionary it is defined as “an excessive desire to acquire more than one has, especially wealth and material possession, usually leading to inappropriate behavior”[1] [and lifestyle]. The temptation to the sin of greed may clothe itself in a variety of ways. It may come as a desire to make a name, financial and material success, find comfort, gain influence, et cetera. Going with the wording of Isaiah 14:12-15 and Ezekiel 28:11-19, it appears that reference is made to Satan (at least in a metaphorical sense), and how his desire for glory and to be more than he was created led to his fall. Similarly, in Genesis 3, Adam and Eve’s lack of contentment with God’s provisions and their desire for more, led them to disobedience and the subsequent fall. The Scriptures provide not only warnings against greed, but also with the way out of it. Let us examine these.

Greed can be a deterrent to finding God

In Luke 12:15 we find Jesus’s plain warning against greed. “Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” To stress His point, Jesus went on to tell a parable of a rich fool. Let’s glean from this parable and other places.

Firstly, greed can be a hindrance to finding God because it come with a deception of compromised and misplaced priorities. Just like the rich fool was determined to acquire everything he could, for nothing but self-pleasure, greed can prompt someone to self-indulgence rather than seeking God. This kind of misplaced priority is very distractive and contrary to the message of the gospel. One can be blinded to the fact that there is more to life than just material things. As Jesus taught; “… a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” One of the richest men to have ever lived also testifies to this: After ascertaining that pleasure, wealth, and material possessions are futile and vanity in themselves (Eccl. 2:1-23), Solomon concluded that man’s duty is to fear God (Eccl. 12:13-14).

Secondly, greed can be a hindrance to finding God because it comes with a deception of false promises. Telling from the parable of the rich fool, although pleasure and material possessions appear to be everything, they cannot cause the continuance of one’s life, not even for a millisecond. A continual covetous pursuit of things can drag one to a place where the next sudden thing they hear is “your temporary stay on earth is over.” Then, they would have no time to hold on to that which is life indeed, compared to the temporal one (Luke 12:20-21). – they would have lost all the time to “seek God’s kingdom and its righteousness” (Matt. 6:33).

Thirdly, greed can a deterrent finding God, because it enslaves. To a group of money lovers, Jesus said; “No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” (Luke 16:13). The question of whether or not we should be rich is taken care of here. One can infer from Jesus’ words that having money and possessions may not be a problem in itself, but allowing them to be your master rather than God or enslaving yourself to them is a problem. Elevating money and possessions to a position of “master” can be problematic, derailing, and distracting. As a servant does before their master, one begins to place all their efforts, motivations, devotions, loyalty, attention, toward money and possessions rather than God. Jesus continued to teach that elevating anything else in one’s heart (to the level of or higher than God) is an abomination in God’s sight (Luke 16:15).

Fourthly, we are reminded by Jesus’s words in Mark 4:18-19 that greedy desires can be a hindrance to finding God because of their deception and choking effect. There we read; “Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word;but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.

Go to Part 2

[1] J.D. Douglas and Merrill C. Tenney: Zondervan Illustrated Bible Dictionary; Zondervan Publishers, Grand Rapids, MI. (2011). P 551

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *