“WATCH OUT and guard yourselves from every kind of greed,” thus said our Lord Jesus Christ to His disciples as He warned them about the dangers of being governed by greed. He further pointed out “…true life is not made up of the things you own, no matter how rich you may be” (Luke 12:15, Today’s English Version).
Indeed, if we yearn for the true life with God in His heavenly kingdom, one of the things we must rid ourselves of is greed. To be filled with greed is not just “improper for God’s holy people” (Eph. 5:3, New International Version); it also chips away one’s trust in God until he is reduced to a blasphemer, whose destiny is utter destruction:
“… The greedy curse and reject the LORD … in their pride they think that God doesn’t matter.” (Ps. 10:3-4, TEV)
Identified here are the bunch of people we should not allow ourselves to be and the kind of people we could become if we let greed consume our hearts and minds. May this serve as a “watch list” for all Christians, especially the young who are exposed to so many bad influences glamorized in today’s pop culture.
Presenting, the “Greedy Bunch”:
“… ‘Come with use, Let us lie in wait to shed blood; Let us lurk secretly for the innocent without cause; … We shall find all kinds of precious possessions, We shall fill our houses with spoil’ … So are the ways of everyone who is greedy for gain; It takes away the life of its owners.” (Prov. 1:11, 13, 19, New King James Version)
The fiercest in the bunch, the Hooligan is also the most easily identified as there is no mistaking the wickedness in his actions. He exacts his greed for unjust gain in the most explicit terms – from petty shoplifting and snatching to upscale theft and armed robbery. The hooligan is what every parent will want to keep their children away from, for he can be very physically – and unreasonably – violent, having no qualms of even killing the innocent just to take his unfair share of the loot. Thus, this ever-timely parent-to-child warning:
“My son, if sinners entice you, do not give in to them. … Do not go along with them, do not set foot on their paths.” (Prov. 1:10, 15, NIV)
THE ABUSIVE EMPLOYER
Whereas the hooligan fails to conceal his greediness, the Abusive Employer can do so with such convincing ploy to the detriment of the unwary job hunter. He hires workers, promises them a hefty sum in exchange for their hard work, but only to delay or keep back the wages jue their labor. Where lies the greediness of this employer? In his audacity to take most if not all the profit to himself, without accounting for the very people who have helped him achieve it. Needless to say, the abusive employer is very much hated in the workplace, and the Bible has unkind words for him either:
“Woe to him who builds his house by unrighteousness And his chambers by injustice, Who uses his neighbor’s service without wages And gives him nothing for his work, … Yet your eyes and your heart are for nothing but your covetousness, For shedding innocent blood, And practicing oppression and violence.” (Jer. 22:13, 17, NKJV)
THE CORRUPT OFFICIAL
Also oozing with greediness is the Corrupt Official who takes bribes from crooks of all kind and covers up their crimes. He doesn’t care about the people who will suffer or get hurt along the way. He conveniently wields whatever power or influence he has to carry out dirty work for his evil comrades. He turns a blind eye to injustice and has no regard for the common good, for what matters most to him is making himself rich even if it means accepting money and gifts from filthy hands. What a pity, indeed, for a society to be run by people like this!
“Your leaders are rebels and friends of thieves; they are always accepting gifts and bribes. They never defend orphans in court or listen when widows present their case.” (Isa. 1:23, TEV)
Often hiding in the guise of a professional or legitimate businessman, the profiteer show his true color in his unfair dealings with his clientele. He makes profits by cheating and mistreating his fellowmen with his mind-boggling schemes. He can be the lender who charges excessive interest or the scheming lendee who borrows, then goes in hiding the surgeon with a bogus license, or the con artist who makes a living by suing and blackmailing just about anybody. He is known by many other aliases – Extortionist, Money-launderer, Swindler, etc. But, whatever mask he chooses to wear, the one charge he is surely guilty of is the sin of forgetting or rejecting the Lord:
“… You take usury and excessive interest and make unjust gain from your neighbors by extortion. And you have forgotten me, declares the Sovereign LORD.” (Ezek. 22:12, NIV)
THE FALSE BELIEVER
Even within the religious circle, there are people whose primary motivation is greed. Among them is the False Believer who, on the outside, may seem sincere in his intention to serve God – what with his expressive singing of Alleluias with matching throw of hands in the air! Behind his charismatic facade, however, lies his screaming desire for material gain:
“So they come to you as people do, they sit before you as My people, and they hear your words, but they do not do them; for with their mouth they show much love, but their hearts pursue their own gain.” (Ezek. 33:31, NKJV)
Such are the people today who join religion in pursuit of a better job, suitable spouse, cure for illness, and other material profits. This makes them the easy preys of their fellow opportunists – the false prophets – whose aim is to make profit by capitalizing on people’s materialistic inclinations (II Tim. 4:3-4; II Pet. 3:16).
THE SELF-JUSTIFYING SERVANT
Greed is also evident in the various excuses given by the Self-Justifying Servant who runs away from his spiritual duties, such as those mentioned in the following parable:
“At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’ Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me…” (Luke 14:17-19, NIV)
Notice the common denominator of the excuses given by all those who refused the Lord’s invitation to the banquet – it’s all about one’s livelihood and self-interest. That’s what the self-justifying servant does. He prides himself in being hardworking and success-driven but leaves very little or no more time for worshiping and serving God because, if truth be told, his eyes are fixed on material riches, not on God’s eternal blessings.
THE OFFENDED GIVER
Another greedy character in the religious scene is the Offended Giver who walks in the footsteps of Ananias and Sapphira. Like the ill-fated couple of the apostolic era (Acts 5:1-10), the offended giver has many doubts and reservations when it comes to giving or offering. His selfish love for money and material pleasure overtakes him, blinding him from the truth of God’s commandment to give and the promise that goes with it:
“Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” (II Cor. 9:7-8, NIV)
WARNING: DON’T DO THIS AT HOME…
Or, anywhere else, for that matter. At all times, let us be watchful and not allow ourselves to be transformed into any of these greedy people who are bound to suffer a terrible fate:
“They are going to end up in hell, because their god is their bodily desires. They are proud of what they should be ashamed of, and they think only of things that belong to this world.” (Phil. 3:19, TEV)
Source: IGLESIA NI CRISTO Pasugo, God’s Message, March 2010 Edition, Volume 62, Number 3, ISSN 0116-1636, p. 24-26, by MARLEX C. CANTOR