Why is it that we can see something all around us yet pretend it doesn’t exist? How could a nation built on solid Biblical principles move so far away from those principles that it is now thought of as hate, hypocritical, narrow mindedness, when someone dares to stand up for those very principles our nation was founded upon.
Greed is certainly nothing new to mankind, in fact you will find it throughout history yet it seems as a nation we have taken greed to an all-time new level where it is the norm rather than the exception. Don’t think for a minute that greed has left any stone unturned including the organized church. We build mega-churches with tremendous capital expended not only to build them but to maintain them. While some do so as a way of developing saints to go out into the world to share the gospel, many have grown large simply for the sake of being large. “We want to be the biggest church in the (you name it) denomination.”
With this mentality, greed has gained a stronghold on many of our traditional churches so they have become places of entertainment and preaching that is socially acceptable and politically correct all the while leaving souls to be destined to hell simply because the person didn’t hear a gospel message to tell them how to avoid being eternally separated from God. We have weak kneed preachers that preach watered down messages that create ill-prepared congregations to stand up for God’s truth and as a result, they lack the backbone to stand up for what is right in God’s eyes and not what man — sinful man — deems as acceptable. All because of greed!
Preachers rely on congregations to support their salary and pay the cost of maintaining all the “things” the church offers so we don’t dare make any of them mad because they will take their money elsewhere. So speaking the truth, God’s truth, might hurt someone’s feelings and we certainly don’t want that to happen. On the surface you are probably reading this and not equating this description to greed; yet when anyone or any organization begins to make decisions based on money, possessions, or the desire to gain more of either one, the person or organization is driven by greed.
So what does God’s Word have to say about greed? PLENTY! We can find example after example in both the Old Testament and the New Testament where God warns us not to allow greed to become the controlling factor in our lives. Proverbs is often referred to as the “advice for life” book in the Bible and it gives us a number of verses on the subject of greed:
“The greedy bring ruin to their households” (1)
“One who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth and one who gives gifts to the rich—both come to poverty.” (2)
“Do not exploit the poor because they are poor and do not crush the needy in court, for the LORD will take up their case and will exact life for life.” (3)
“Do not eat the food of a begrudging host, do not crave his delicacies; for he is the kind of person who is always thinking about the cost. “Eat and drink,” he says to you, but his heart is not with you” . (4)
“The stingy are eager to get rich and are unaware that poverty awaits them.” (5)
“The greedy stir up conflict, but those who trust in the LORD will prosper.” (6)
Besides the ones mentioned from Proverbs, here are just a few other verses from the Old Testament:
“Everyone comes naked from their mother’s womb, and as everyone comes, so they depart. They take nothing from their toil that they can carry in their hands.” (7)
“Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain.” (8)
“From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain; prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit.” (9)
While this is not an exhaustive list, it certainly gives us a very clear word picture of how our Heavenly Father sees greed and its path of destruction. If you read these verses carefully, with a sincere desire to understand what God is saying, you would have to admit that our country fits these Old Testament descriptions far too well yet God’s men stand idly by and do nothing. We have become a bunch of spiritual weaklings that fear standing up for God’s truth and righteousness and our nation is quickly falling away from its founding principles.
Some like to discount the Old Testament with the argument that it is under the old covenant and the New Testament is under the new covenant. Well let’s take a look at what the New Testament has to say about greed. Jesus said “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” (10) Kinda’ hits close to home doesn’t it? We have become a nation that is driven by possessions. What neighborhood in which we live, the cars we drive, the material possessions we own, the clubs we belong to, even the church we attend brings with it status. God’s men have got to wake up and begin to see the tragedy in the role model we are setting for future generations. God does not condemn possessions; He does condemn us worshiping possessions instead of Him!
James Chapter 4 states it very straightforward when it says: “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: ‘God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”
“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” (11) James is not writing to the lost but is writing to those professing to be Christians. God certainly does answer prayer but when we ask with the wrong motives in our hearts the answer is going to be no or not right now because we are seeking because we are serving self-gain not God’s glory.
Greed leads to many things but humility is not one of them. As a nation we have become arrogant and haughty. We seek the pleasures that sin has to offer at the cost of standing on the Word of God. God’s men have gotten caught into the trap of believing success comes from pleasing man and not serving God. So we do worldly things to gain worldly status while people all around us are destined to hell simply because we were not willing to be obedient and speak boldly about the One True God and the one and only way to have eternal life with Him which is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ! So the real question is what are you going to do? If you proclaim to be a man of God, confessing Jesus Christ as Lord of your life then get off your behind and start doing what God has asked you to do! For some of you that will mean knocking off the dust and the rust because you have been idle for far too long. Get into God’s Word and know what He says particularly to men about serving Him. Don’t fall into the trap that Satan loves to whisper in your ear “isn’t that the preacher’s and/or evangelist’s job, or my denominations job, or the missionaries we support, or the many other things that tempt you to sit back down and do nothing. While I see our nation headed down a path of destruction, there is a much greater issue we need to be focused on and that is those around us that are lost and do not know Jesus Christ. This is a one-to-one, get real, discussion that is simply you sharing what Christ has done in your life since you met Him as your personal Savior. Read Ephesians 6 and evaluate whether you are fully armored for spiritual warfare and if not, get busy preparing yourself and your armor for battle.
As one of my fellow pastors at Rushing Wind Biker Church of North Mississippi says, “I’m going to heaven and I want to take as many with me as I possibly can!” Is that your heart’s desire today? If not then it’s time to make this your battle cry and become a Warrior for Christ 24/7! Look for those divine appointments that God brings your way every day to tell someone about Jesus. To conquer greed we must be prepared to offer an alternative and the only lasting, eternal alternative is a relationship with Jesus Christ. That’s the kind of relationship that keeps on giving for all of eternity and it trumps greed every time.
1 Proverbs 15:27a. All scripture used in this article is taken from the NIV translation of the Holy Bible unless otherwise noted.
2 Proverbs 22:16
3 Proverbs 22:22-23
4 Proverbs 23:6-7
5 Proverbs 28:22
6 Proverbs 28:25
7 Ecclesiastes 5:15
8 Psalm 119:36
9 Jeremiah 6:13
10 Luke 12:15
11 James 4:1-10