by Dorette Saunders
You would think the Bible wouldn’t have to warn us about greed. But God’s Word leaves nothing to chance. God has given us Scripture to show us how to live (2 Timothy 3:16, 17). Instinctively, we know that greed, as in “gluttony,” is wrong. It can have a deleterious effect…we feel bloated, we get nauseous, we gain weight, we look bad in front of onlookers as we grab more than we can eat or jostle for more than our fair share. But do we recognize greed when we want more than enough, claw our way to wealth and excess, and label it “success”? Do we recognize greed when we use our possessions to make ourselves feel superior to others, or when we hoard our blessings and neglect to share them with others?
In Luke’s Gospel (12:13-21), Jesus gives a warning against greed by introducing a parable of a wealthy farmer whose grain had far exceeded his storage houses. The man’s solution to his dilemma was to build even larger storehouses so he could fit it all in and live comfortably for the rest of his life.
“Now I know what I'll do. I'll tear down my barns and build bigger ones, where I can store all my grain and other goods. Then I'll say to myself, ‘You have stored up enough good things to last for years to come. Live it up! Eat, drink, and enjoy yourself’ ” (vv.18-19, CEV).
Do you hear a hollow echo? Listen closely…”I,” “my,” and “myself.” There are no prayers of thanksgiving. There is no asking God how he should handle this excess that he has been blessed with. There is no heart of generosity that would give him joy from sharing. Instead, there is only a plan for personal, private fulfillment and aggrandizement.
Selfishness is the progenitor of greed. There is no law against being rich and the Bible clearly says it’s not money that defiles us but the “love” of money (1 Timothy 6:10). So it should come as no surprise that the parable includes a rebuke.
But God said to him, “You fool! Tonight you will die. Then who will get what you have stored up?” (v.20)
Whoa! Greed can topple the mighty. In fact, it can kill. If not literally, greed can snuff out our spirit of love, compassion, and generosity to those around us who are less fortunate. It can make our hearts hard. It can dim our witness.
Jesus, then, tells us:
“This is what happens to people who store up everything for themselves, but are poor in the sight of God” (v. 21).
What do our barns look like? Are we sharing our blessings? Does our treasure lie in our earthly possessions? How can we be rich “in the sight of God”? Would the treasure we’re accumulating get God’s seal of approval? Or would God label us a fool?
As we guard against greed in whatever its form, let’s remember the proverb, “Everything in moderation.” Let’s also remember that if we have to manipulate someone or the system, then our gains are ill-gotten. And finally, let’s examine our motivation. How does what we have, and how we use it, honor God?
Our Heavenly Father has given us all things to enjoy. He wants us to be content, and he also wants us to be his hands and heart and reach out to those who are in need. We will discover the joy of being rich in God as we fill the baskets of those around us.
PRAYER: God, our Father, let us walk in your footsteps of generosity. Let us see the needs of others not as opportunities to give a hand-out, but to graciously lift them by the hand to the spaces and places you would have them occupy. Give us joy as we go about honoring you through our generosity. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.