Guard Against Every Kind of Greed

Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own. — Luke 12:15

Jean Paul Getty, the world’s richest private citizen, amassed more than $25 billion (by today’s standards) before his death in 1976 — financially wealthy beyond comparison, but spiritually and relationally bankrupt. His greed led to a strong distrust of people and five failed marriages. Getty was also infamous for his frugal ways: for example, he washed his own clothes, reused stationary, installed a pay phone for guests in his Sutton mansion, and when his grandson J. P. Getty III was kidnapped, he negotiated the ransom from $17 million down to $3 million. His grandson never fully recovered from the five-month kidnapping, and the trauma eventually led him to drug addiction and death. Greed will always leave a wide wake of destruction in its path.

The essence of greed is to hoard God-provided resources for selfish desires. Material things often create the greatest test of our devotion as Christians. Greed reveals that we see ourselves as owners rather than stewards. Jesus instructs us to guard against greed because it works in a stealthy manner, distorting reality. Jesus’ parable of the rich fool (Luke 12:16–20) illustrated how a wealthy farmer’s greed kept him from sharing with those in need and fooled him into thinking he would live in luxury for many years. But the farmer dies in greed and loses everything.

Jesus follows this parable with a statement that provides the very best security against the attack of greed: “[be] rich toward God” (Luke 12:21). Greed is overcome through investing in the Kingdom of God. The Christian makes deposits in His Kingdom through acts of mercy, sacrifice, generosity, worship, service, and faithfulness.

“The meek shall inherit the earth, but not the mineral rights,” Getty famously said, revealing how greed corrupts a person’s worldview and mocks the Creator God.  As followers of Jesus, our worldview has both earthly justice and eternity in sight. Be on guard against greed and be rich toward God.

Blessings, Bob Paddock