Greed is a sin. Most people will confuse what greed is because of their own covetousness. They get the definition only partially right. The dictionary definition of Greed is an “excessive desire to possess wealth, goods, or abstract things of value with the intention to keep it for one’s self.”

What I see is that the covetous people add an addition phrase to this definition. They see greedy people as those that keep the possessions, and DON’T funnel it down to them. In other words, they are benefiting from the other’s wealth, so the person must be greedy. In other words: “he won’t give his money away to me (or my friends), so he must be greedy.”

I have to say this right out, because it has to be said: “The Democratic Party in the United States, is the party of the covetous.” They want other people’s wealth to be distributed to themselves. That is a sin, just as greed is a sin.

The other thing that I see is that people will drop off part of the definition too. They drop off the last part. So the definition for them becomes: “excessive desire to possess wealth.”

I think this is wrong too.

The definition of greed needs to have the aspect of “selfishness” to it. Otherwise, it would be greedy to want “anything.” Wanting a safe place to live, or a new pair of shoes could be considered greedy.

Having things in abundance is not greed. Even Jesus says that in John 10:10.

What Does Jesus Say About Greed?

The book of Luke, chapter 13 gives us an example of what Greed is:

15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”

 16 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest.

STOP! Pause here and think about what Jesus implies here in verse 16. The rich man got an abundant harvest. If God is against abundance, he would not have blessed him with this harvest. Right?

Continuing on…

17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’

   18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain.

Stop again! Ask yourself: “has greed entered into the picture yet?” When he desires to tear down his old warehouses and build bigger ones, is that a sin? I don’t think so. Even the people that are adamant that man is only a steward of God’s creation would agree that this is not a sin. Taking care of the processions God has given you is the proper thing to do. To let the grain rot out in the open would be the sin, right?

Now we get to the sin of greed:

19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’

   20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

   21 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.” Luke 13: 15-21 (NIV)

The sin of greed is hording the wealth for his own pleasure.

That is what I get out of this passage. I’m not alone. I was reading one commentator say that “retirement,” based on this scripture, is not biblical. Yikes! That hurts, doesn’t it?

Most people will look at verse 21, and say that it contains the definition of greed: “Not being rich toward God.” They will assume that this means to give all your money to the church.

I think this in an incorrect definition. God has only ever required a 10% tithe to the church. He never punishes people that don’t give an offering over and above that amount. So that is not a sin.

What are you supposed to do with the other 90% of your wealth then? This is a great question. The answer, in my heart, is found in the question: “What is important to God?” and “How do you store up treasures in heaven?”

I think the answer is “people.” But I don’t believe that this means just to give your money away to other people. If that was the case, why would God allow people to accumulate money in the first place. They should be giving away their money as they make it, keeping only enough to live off of.

That God would allow people to become rich must mean that he wants us to do something other with our wealth than to just give it away to people. But he still wants people to be involved. In other words, I think this goes back to the first commandment in the bible: “Be fruitful.”

I don’t know about you, but when I look around, I see that rich people are some of the most fruitful people around. They take their money and invest it, which creates opportunities for those around them. In other words, they give other people employment, which allows those people to be productive.

Work is part of God’s plan for his people. He wants them to work. When you say that you won’t work anymore, which is what the Rich Fool did in the parable, you’re depriving someone else the opportunity to become a producer of goods and services.

What is Wrong With Retirement?

Your body is going to slow down as you get older. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be productive in other ways. Even the old fruit tree that no longer bears fruit can still be a home for birds and provide cooling shade for the grass below it.

Your task, as you become older, is to find ways to still be a blessing to those around you. In my case, I look to my father as an example. He was forced into retirement by a heart attack when I was still in high school. But while he was not working on the assembly line anymore, he basically worked for those around him. He volunteered at the local hospital, raised chickens for their eggs, and took care of children for those that had no other day-care options. Even when he had cancer and was close to dying, he felt this urge to stay busy and productive. I marveled at him as he was out painting a barn, when he should have been conserving his strength.

In my eyes, the sin of greed is hording your talents, and not putting them to work so that other people can be productive too. That is what God will probably judge me on, when I stand before him after my body dies.

Stay productive and “be fruitful.” That is how you make money, God’s way.

 

 

 

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

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