Be On Guard against all Greed (1)


Of the 27 books in the New Testament, 22 discourse on the sin of greed. The books in the categories of personalities and poetry in the Bible all warn us about the bane of greed. Jesus Christ also admonished us clearly, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." (Luke 12:15) We see then the importance to guard against and renounce greed.


“You shall not covet” is the last of the Ten Commandments. It is often overlooked by people, but is in fact God’s severe warning for mankind. This sin that is generated from within the heart can lead to the offenses in the prior nine commandments. Greed causes Man to substitute the things of the world for the place of the one true God, driving him to worship material idols, to point to the Golden Calf (Mammon) and declare it to be God, and to work 7 days non-stop in order to produce more earnings. The greed for wealth severs the bond between father and son, and induces countless people to commit the sins of murder, adultery, theft, and giving false testimony to indict others (exodus 20:1-17). No wonder Paul said, “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.” (1 Timothy 6:10)


Many infants just learning to speak have heard from their parents the admonition: “A candy thief in childhood – a bank robber in manhood.” Even professional con-artists will teach their own sons not to “fall for the easy money”. Although we infuse in our children from infancy the notion to renounce greed, yet we often intentionally or unintentionally allow greed to take root in our hearts, so that it develops into different sins. Greed originates from secret lusts. An improper thought that is minute and unnoticed can lead to a grievous offense. But the things we covet correspond to this lifetime (the Chinese word for “greed” is composed of the words representing “now” and “money”), are visible, and do not belong to us but to others (Deuteronomy 5:21).


The Bible has many teachings about greed that can serve as our admonition. Because of his love of the colorful life in Sodom, Lot gradually moved his tents closer and closer to this sinful city, finally resulting in his loss of everything. His wife could not bear leaving behind all the treasures accumulated over the years, so she turned around to look at the city that was ordained by God to be destroyed, and became a pillar of salt. Isaac desired good food, and was foolish in the matter of giving his blessing to the first-born son, so that his two sons turned into enemies, and he was separated from Jacob for 20 years. The Israelites longed for meat in the wilderness, and disobeyed the word of God, bringing upon themselves the furious destruction of the Lord. Balaam coveted the ignoble wages of the Moabite king and took a path away from God. Although even his own donkey tried to divert him with human speech, he ended up being struck down. Achan coveted some devoted things and secretly hid them in his tent. That caused the Israelites to lose the battle for Ai and brought calamity upon his whole family as well. Gehazi lied in order to get gifts from Naaman, and not only forfeited his blessing as the disciple of a prophet, but brought the curse of leprosy on himself and his descendants. Demas loved the world and abandoned his lofty position to serve God, and so lost the grace of God. For thirty pieces of silver, Judas betrayed Jesus Christ, thereby not only losing his standing as an apostle, but condemning himself to become the son of destruction. All these people who harbored greed did not receive good ends. It is a solemn reminder for us.  


By: Daniel To