Question: "What does the Bible say about greed?"
Answer: There are many warnings in the Bible about giving in to greed and longing for riches. Jesus warned, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15). “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal… You cannot serve both God and money” (Matthew 6:19 and 24). Did Jesus pursue the acquisition of money? No. On the contrary, He became poor for our sake (2 Corinthians 8:9) and had “no place to lay his head” (Matthew 8:20). The only disciple concerned with wealth was the embezzler Judas, who betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.
Greed and a desire for riches are traps that bring ruin and destruction. “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil,” and Christians are warned, “Do not put your trust in wealth” (1 Timothy 6:9-10, 17-18). Covetousness, or wanting more than we have, is idolatry. “For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person – such a man is an idolater – has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God” (Ephesians 5:5). The principle to remember is contained in Hebrews 13:5: “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’”
It is the love of money, and not money itself, that is the problem. The love of money is a sin because it gets in the way of worshipping God. Jesus said it was very hard for rich people to enter the Kingdom of God. When the rich young ruler asked Jesus what he should do to inherit eternal life, Jesus told him to sell all his possessions and give the money to the poor. “When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth” (Matthew 19:16-22; Luke 10:17-31). By instructing him to give up his money, Jesus pointed out the young man’s main problem: greed. The man could not follow Christ because he was following money. His love of this world interfered with his love for God.
People are more likely to cry out to God when they are in need than when they have plenty. Too often, the wealthy become complacent and self-satisfied and ascribe their riches to their own efforts instead of acknowledging that every good gift comes from God. The easier our lives become, the more enjoyment we derive from our wealth, the greater the temptation to store up treasures on earth, instead of in heaven. If we focus on earthly things like material wealth and possessions, then we fail to give God the glory and worship He deserves. We are to serve God, not waste our time trying to become rich (Proverbs 23:4). Our heart’s desire should be to store up riches in heaven and not worry about what we will eat or drink or wear. “But seek first [God’s] kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:25-34).
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