It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God. – Mark 10:25 (ESV)
Whenever I think about greed, I think about the kid’s movie Toy Story. (Strange correlation, you say?)
In the opening scene, a little boy is playing with his toys. We see he has set up an old western scene and is acting out a bank robbery. (Spoiler: All of this is in preparation for his special cowboy toy, Woody, to come save the day.) Mr. Potato Head, the villain, demands that the safe be emptied and as the coins hit the ground, he kisses them, saying, “Money, money, money!” (If you aren’t familiar with the movie, you can watch this specific clip here.)
While this may seem like a silly illustration, isn’t that what greed is all about? “Money, money, money!”
Throughout Scripture, we see that greed is a big problem because it distracts us from serving God, who wants to be involved in our decisions. “Since greed makes money our god, eventually it starts to determine our decisions, first a little, then a bit more, and in the end, completely” (The 3 Colors of Community, p. 65). “Getting more” becomes an end in itself until, eventually, money becomes a substitute for God.
Now, the sin of greed has nothing to do with how much money a person has. It has to do with our attitude toward money. Whenever the accumulation of money becomes our only focus in life, rather than a means to benefit others, money has replaced God. Instead of seeking sustenance (which is a natural, God-given desire), those who are greedy wish to acquire as much money as possible–beyond sustenance–and often without the intention of even spending it!
What is the remedy for the sin of greed? Through the quality characteristic of need-oriented evangelism. When sustenance looks for an outlet, it will turn into greed if it goes down a path of isolation. However, in the presence of community, the search for sustenance can turn into need-oriented evangelism. Need-oriented evangelism is all about sharing what you have so that others can experience the love of God. While greed says, “I need more for myself,” need-oriented evangelism says, “I will pass on what I have received.” This characteristic connects material goods to the needs of others–specifically those who have not yet experienced God’s love.
Additionally, “When we share what we have received, we become richer ourselves. Research clearly indicates that the happiest people are those who help others rather than focus on themselves. Greed makes us unhappy; sharing makes us happy” (The 3 Colors of Community, p. 69). The Bible sums this up in one simple statement, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35b, ESV).
Let’s try something different. Grab a piece of paper and write down specific ways that you see yourself struggle with the sin of greed. Perhaps you hesitate when putting money into the plate at church, or maybe you avoid charitable donations. Next to each item on your list, write an action that you can take to eliminate the sin of greed from that are of your life. Then, ACT ON IT!
(You can learn more about “The Path Away from Greed” on pp. 63-71 of The 3 Colors of Community.)