Greed is nothing to joke about. It can be very expensive. The price tag sometimes is the dissolution of a marriage, the end of a friendship, termination from a job, a lifetime in prison, or even cost your eternal soul.
The problem with greed is not what it gets you, but what it costs you.
The word “greed” (pleonexia) comes from two Greek words “pleon,” which means “more,” and “exia,” which means “to have.” Greed is that inner craving for more that can lead to destruction. The problem with greed is that it feeds upon itself.
The more we have, the more we crave. It is like a shipwrecked sailor on a life raft in the middle of an ocean. His terrible thirst causes him to drink the salt water, but it only makes him thirstier. This causes him to drink even more, which makes him thirstier and thirstier. He consumes more and more until, ironically, he becomes dehydrated and dies.
But the real problem with greed is not what it gets us, but what it costs us, a problem which Jesus alludes to in Luke 12:15: “…for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.”
How foolish it is to spend your life accumulating what you will one day leave behind at the expense of gaining the only thing that will matter after you die.
Have you ever noticed how God has a way of interrupting our best-formulated plans? We have the next ten years of our life mapped out, but…
- we receive a devastating phone call in the middle of the night.
- a doctor’s report changes our trajectory.
- a leadership shift brings major changes in the workplace.
- the attitude of our mate alters and impacts the home.
And just like that our world turns upside down. In the story Jesus tells in Luke 12 about a rich land owner, verse 20 says, “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?”
The word translated “required” is a banking term that means to have a loan called in as due. Your life does not belong to you. Your life is simply on loan from God. And He can call in that loan anytime He chooses.
The world judged this man a success because of his wealth and possessions. God called him a fool because he had allowed his insatiable desire for more to keep him from taking care of the most urgent need in his life. He had spent his entire life cultivating his land, but never took time to cultivate his soul – his relationship with God.
The opposite of greed is not generosity, but wisdom. If the greedy person is one who foolishly focuses on this life alone, then it is the wise person who has a different priority. He understands the importance of investing time every day in nurturing his relationship with God (1 Tim. 6:17-19).
The wise person is one who does not wait until it is too late to make that discovery. Instead, he is willing to loosen his grip on the temporal that he may grab hold of that which is eternal.