“A greedy man stirs up strife, but the one who trusts in the Lord will be enriched. Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.” (Proverbs 28:25-26)
“Someone in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me’…‘Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.’ And he told them a parable, saying, ‘The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, “What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?” And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:15-21)
Have you ever seen the HGTV show “Island Hunters?” I have watched it a couple of times merely to see the beauty of the secluded islands that are for sale in the $10-$30 million-dollar range. Here are real people who are shopping for a refuge, which is often only accessible by seaplane. Not all these people are greedy or selfish; I imagine that some of them give away considerable portions of their holdings. However, we are not to envy or covet their lifestyle, finances, or desires. Greediness is the inordinate or excessive desire for wealth, possessions, position, or any other thing our hearts lust after. Hoarding wealth or possessions is unbiblical, worldly, and selfishly foolish.
Jesus was talking about deep spiritual issues when he was rudely interrupted by a man asking him to adjudicate over his inheritance. I wonder if this man ever realized how he had exposed his materialistic, selfish heart to the Lord of Lords. I also thought of “Island Hunters” because the parable Jesus employed was about a man who was already exceedingly rich, owning not just a mansion but something like a country (v.16 “land”). In the parable’s teaching, we see greedy desires leading to unspiritual and selfish thinking when, on the other hand, God is at work and may bring us to final judgment at any time. The rich man in the parable spent much time thinking about his wealth and therefore idolizing it. His desire to hoard his wealth is a natural extension of his covetousness and dependence upon it for his happiness. Focusing on material possessions leads him to be utterly obsessed with them without any regard for God, others, the truth, or the outcome of his idolatry. Materialism has great power to blind us to everything else if we allow it. The more time we spend focused on our money, possessions, inheritance, or other financial matters, the more danger we run of over-indulgence.
Wise financial planning begins with the understanding that we must maintain a healthy biblical perspective on the amount of time and the quality of time we spend on it in proportion to spiritual concerns, including worship, Bible study, fellowship, service, and prayer. If our vocations require that we spend most of our time on financial matters, it is essential that this time be saturated with a biblical worldview.
“For the wicked boasts of the desires of his soul, and the one greedy for gain curses and renounces the LORD. In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him; all his thoughts are, ‘There is no God.’” (Psalm 10:3-4)
What will prevent us from falling to the pride of greed?