Greed is defined as an inordinate desire to acquire more than one needs.
Wikipedia says “St. Thomas Aquinas wrote greed is ‘a sin against God, just as all mortal sins, in as much as man condemns things eternal for the sake of temporal things'”. Wikipedia also says “scavenging and hoarding of materials or objects, theft and robbery, especially by means of violence, trickery, or manipulation of authority are all actions that may be inspired by greed.”
What does God say?
Luke 12:15 – And he said unto them “Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.”
In that passage Jesus tells us directly that life isn’t about having lots of stuff.
1 Timothy 6:9-10 – But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts, which draw men into destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: Which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through sorrow.
Look at celebrities. They have everything money can buy. But they (for the most part) appear to be a mess. They marry and divorce at an alarming rate, are in and out of rehab and have children out of wedlock as often as children born in marriage. But think of how they make their money. In the pursuit of riches they make their money selling sin and debauchery. For a majority of them I would bet that temporal things are more important than eternal. The metaphorical God shaped hole in their soul cannot be filled with stuff or money. Obviously celebrities are by no means the only ones that have everything and yet nothing, they are just the people that have their lives on display.
At a conference (in the interest of full disclosure I didn’t actually go to the sermons, but we ordered them on CD and listened to some of them on the way home) I was at last week the pastor told us that if every Christian in America tithed their 10% we (the church) would have enough money to feed the ENTIRE WORLD! In wanting more money and stuff, we are willing to go against what God asks of us and stunt the works we could be doing. Does stuff really make you happy?
Oh and in case you are wondering, most likely you are rich. Maybe not for the USA, but in the big picture of the world, if you have a computer or phone to read this one, you are rich.
Ecclesiastes 5:10 – He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity.
That Bible verse just told us that stuff doesn’t satisfy us. We all think if I can just have _________, then I will be happy. But the Bible says that isn’t how it works. There will ALWAYS be something new and better that you want.
Matthew 27:5 – And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself.
He is this passage refers to Judas, the man who betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. He was SO greedy for that money that he sold out the man he KNEW was the Son of God. What did that money get him? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! He killed himself.
I never really thought of myself as a greedy person. I wouldn’t do bad things for money, I don’t like expensive things, and I donate money every payday. However, I recently realized that I AM greedy.
I love to collect things, and often have an abundance of things. Its absurd. I collect clothes, and books, and magazines, and patterns, and the list goes on. I don’t need these things, and many of them I don’t use, I just hoard. I have actually told Michael on numerous occasions that I hate living with his mom because I like having all my stuff around me, it actually makes me feel secure. Which is wrong. On two counts: 1) None of that stuff actually is security, its not like I am hoarding food, or water or something essential to life and 2) security comes from God, not man or man made objects.
I also don’t particularly like sharing, which is greedy and not really following the “love your neighbor as yourself” command. So I am going to try and be more generous with my stuff.
To combat my desire for abundance I made myself a rule of 7 for my clothes. I can have 7 of each type of clothing: 7 pants, 7 sweaters, 7 tank tops, etc. This will still be tons of clothes, and way more than I need, but a huge cut back. I am keeping all my socks and underwear though, because 1) no one is going to be blessed by my used undergarments (ew) so its wasteful to just throw them away, and 2) socks and underwear seem to get lost in the wash or develop holes really fast! Eventually I will scale back on the 7 to just what I need, but its a good stepping stone. I am going to give away the rest of my clothes, which hopefully will be a blessing to someone who needs them. Whenever I buy something new, I will have to give something old away which should save me some money.
Did you ever realize that saving money is another facet of greed? That hits close to home with me because I have a desire to hoard money as well as stuff. Again, its a security thing. I’m not saying you shouldn’t save money, by all means have retirement and emergency funds. But saving MORE than you need is storing up your treasures on earth, not in heaven.
17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
18 He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,
19 Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
20 The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?
21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.
22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.
Did you see what that said? Jesus told this man he needed to sell all his stuff, donate the money and follow him. And he flat out refused! Now as I have said, I have an unhealthy level of affection for stuff, which I am going to work on, but you can bet that if Jesus ever directly told me to get rid of it, I surely would.
Greed is everywhere. In our society it is seen as a good thing. He who has the most toys wins. But greed, like every other sin, is an attempt to find satisfaction outside of God. It isn’t going to work. Stuff won’t make you happy, and the next new thing will always leave you wanting more. I am going to work on blessing other people, instead of trying to bless myself (which when I put it that way is just ridiculous!)