In a world saturated with inequity, whereby society encourages us to look out for ourselves, greed rears its ugly head. Our culture consistently compels us to consume more.
Whether we are buying into fast fashion, constantly pursuing the most up-to-date gadget, or simply the obsession with acquiring more stuff, many of us remain enslaved by our greed.
As we rapidly approach the impending Christmas season, shopping centres swarm with eager bargain hunters. The grandiosity of the malls lulls consumers into the belief that they need more.
Social media constantly bombards advertisement through strategic product placement and influencers which in turn fuels the consumer’s desire for more. Like an addiction, consumerism feds into greed and further propels the pursuit for more and more.
Greed is a form of selfishness which presents as a serious problem in our society today. Currently, the mere 1% of the world’s wealthiest people own half of the world’s net wealth.
Furthermore, a quick skim read through the news headlines demonstrates the detrimental impact of societies’ greed economically, politically and environmentally.
Recently I completed a bible study called Fatal Distractions: Conquering Destructive Temptations by Kay Arthur, David and BJ Lawson where I was challenged to contemplate the biblical perspective on greed, and how this outlived in the lives of believers.
The dangers of greed
He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves abundance with its income. This too is vanity (Ecclesiastes chapter 5, verse 10-11).
In Ecclesiastes chapter 5, verse 10-11, the writer describes the lack of fulfilment and emptiness resulting from the love of money. The value of earthly wealth is transitory - you cannot take it with you.
Whether we find ourselves lusting after the allusive item on sale, working excessive hours in order to obtain a higher income, or neglecting to share our resources with others, we too have become ensnared by greed.
Although there is nothing inherently evil about wealth, Jesus warns His disciples in Matthew chapter 13, verse 22 and Matthew chapter 16, verse 24-26 about the potential deceitful and distracting nature of wealth. In addition, Jesus informs us that where a person’s treasure is, their heart will be also.
Greed is a fatal distraction. It has the ability to remove our focus from God and shift it to material possessions or wealth. Jesus emphasized His warning against greed in a parable about a greedy rich man in Luke chapter 12, verse 15-21. The parable portrays the selfishness of greed and how ultimately greed leads to death.
The antidote for greed
However, not all hope is lost as contentment and generosity are the antidotes for greed.
Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I will never leave you, nor will I ever forsake you” (Hebrews chapter 13, verse 5).
Contentment frees us from the love of money and liberates us from the desire to buy into consumerism. Instead, contentment redirects our attention back to our provider, God. Our contentment rests firmly on God’s promise that He will never abandon us for He is our faithful provider.
Paul demonstrates evidence of his contentment overcoming greed in all circumstances. He explains in Philippians chapter 4, verse 11-12, that he has learnt to be content in both times of humble means and prosperity.
We have all been a gifted vast variety of resources to steward during our time here on earth. While there may be times of plenty and times of need, we are called to be content in all circumstances.
Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians chapter 9, verse 6-11).
God has purposed us to be generous givers with a cheerful heart. All of our resources have been supplied to us from God thus, we must surrender these things to Him.
When we acknowledge that our resources come only from God our heart is changed and outflows cheerful generosity. When people are generous they find freedom from the selfishness of greed as they place a higher priority on God and others.
A countercultural perspective
Selfishness festers greed and in our individualistic society, putting others' needs above our own requires a countercultural perspective. We are called to strive for an attitude of contentment and generosity. God’s primary concern is our hearts. Whether we have little or plenty we are called be content and generous with our resources.
Jessica studied a Bachelor of Nursing at the University of Auckland. She enjoys spending time in nature and reading a good book. Writing is her way of communicating with God, expressing creativity and processing ideas. You can connect with her at: firstname.lastname@example.org