EVERY ONE THAT IS GREEDY OF GAIN
By John C. Carpenter
Solomon wrote these instructional words: The fear of the LORD is the
beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction. My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the
law of thy mother: For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck. My son, if sinners entice thee,
consent thou not. If they say, Come with us, let us lay wait for blood, let us lurk privily for the innocent without cause: Let us
swallow them up alive as the grave; and whole, as those that go down into the pit: We shall find all precious substance, we shall
fill our houses with spoil: Cast in thy lot among us; let us all have one purse: My son, walk not thou in the way with them; refrain
thy foot from their path: For their feet run to evil, and make haste to shed blood. Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight
of any bird. And they lay wait for their own blood; they lurk privily for their own lives. So are the ways of every one that is greedy
of gain; which taketh away the life of the owners thereof (Proverbs 1:7-19). In our subject verses, the ever-wise Solomon describes
one of the major characteristics of the sinner as greediness.
What is this greediness that Solomon was referring to here, and
why is it dangerous to the believer in Christ? In verse 19 above, the word greedy is translated from the Hebrew word batsa, which
means to covet, cut off, fulfill, gain through selfish ambition and effort, to get, plunder, perform, or be wounded. In verse 19,
the word gain is translated from the Hebrew word betsa, which means covetousness, lucre, or profit. In essence, to be greedy of gain
means to wrongfully, often by subtlety, take by deceit and force something of profit and value. Something profitable can refer to
anything which we consider valuable and beneficial to us, which may include reputation, pride, courage, health, love, money, power,
comfort, pleasure, influence, lust, reward, strength, success, or beauty.
SO ARE THE WAYS OF EVERY ONE THAT IS GREEDY OF GAIN
of us have our own ideas about what greed is. We probably have opinions about whether it really exists, how it affects us and the
world around us, and whether it is evil or not. More importantly, though, we should be concerned about what the scriptures say about
greed, or greediness.
The ever-wise Solomon warns that greediness will result in personal affliction and suffering: He that is
greedy [to covet with plunder] of gain troubleth [afflict, disturb, stir up] his own house [self, home, family, life]; but he that
hateth gifts [sacrificial offering, a bribe] shall live (Pro 15:27). Regarding sinners, Solomon also warns that their feet run to
evil, and make haste to shed blood. Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird. And they lay wait for their own blood;
they lurk privily for their own lives. So are the ways of every one that is greedy of gain; which taketh away the life of the owners [the
greedy] thereof (Pro 1:16-19).
Many in the so-called health, wealth, and prosperity gospel often preach about sowing [primarily
into their own ministries, by the way], not out of a Godly, loving and giving mind and heart, but in order to greedily receive from
God. They often refer to terms such as prosperity, abundance, and increase. Yet, Solomon advises us that although the love of money,
abundance, and increase may make life easier in some ways, it shall not bring satisfaction: He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied [have
enough, be full, satiated] with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity (Ecc 5:10). Solomon also warns
that He that hasteth [pursue to the degree of alarm and agitation, with focus and determination] to be rich hath an evil eye, and
considereth not that poverty shall come upon him (Pro 28:22).
Some in the Corinthian church were lusting after money and resources,
and were coveting gain. Because he knew the dangers of covetousness [greediness], Paul warned the Corinthians not to keep company,
if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with
such an one no not to eat (1 Cor 5:11). Paul further explained to the Corinthians that covetousness is sinful and unrighteous, and
can even cause one to forfeit eternal salvation: Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived:
neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous [eager
for gain, desiring more], nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor 6:9-10). Paul likewise
warned believers in Ephesus about the damnable dangers of covetousness when he wrote, But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness,
let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient:
but rather giving of thanks. For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath
any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God (Eph 5:3-5). Concerned about their motivations for serving as ministers of the
gospel, the apostle Peter encourages the leaders of the early church to serve God willingly and eagerly, and not for the purposes
of greedy, covetous gain: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly;
not for filthy lucre [sordid greed for gain, including fame, power, or money], but of a ready [willing, eager] mind (1 Peter 5:2).
Christ, Himself, warns us that the greedy pursuit of worldly things, such as money, fame, power, etc., can even result in our own
damnation. Speaking to those around Him, including His disciples, the Lord said, For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but
whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain
the whole world, and lose his own soul? (Mark 8:35-36). It is possible to gain the entire world, and yet lose our own soul.
HOPE IN YOUR WEALTH
From time to time, most of us, including believers in Christ, lust to some degree after money and other material
things. Unfortunately, within the Christian church, this lust for money and material things is not only evident, but even pronounced,
in those who teach and promote the health, wealth, and prosperity doctrine. These church leaders are promoting this false doctrine
for four reasons: one, they have been deceived [and choose to remain deceived] about the truthfulness of the health, wealth and prosperity
doctrines; two, many of these deceived church leaders originally learned the health, wealth, and prosperity doctrines they teach from
other church leaders who erroneously promote these doctrines as biblical; and, three, these church leaders pursue these doctrines
because of their own lusts for riches, large and expensive ministry buildings, extravagant automobiles, plush mansions, power and
ego, large personal salaries, and expensive aircraft, not to mention other things such as excessive ego, pride, influence, and control.
To make things worse, all of these worldly things are lusted after by these false ministers in the name of Christ, and for the alleged
purpose, according to them, of preaching and promoting the Gospel of Christ. Sadly, all of this lust is seen in some church leaders
and members, while the scriptures instruct us that the Son of man hath not where to lay his head (Luke 9:58). Fourth, these ministers
also preach error because they do not know the scriptures: Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God (Mat 22:29).
These false ministers are they that are unlearned and unstable [who] wrest [twist, pervert], as they do also the other scriptures,[for their own ungodly purposes and] unto their own destruction (2 Peter 3:16). These evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse,
deceiving [many others], and being deceived (2 Tim 3:13), and their end is destruction. Christ plainly says that the man is a foolthat layeth up treasure [worldly treasure, wealth, riches] for himself, and is not rich toward God (Luke 12:20-21).
for money and material things is also present in many attendees and members of these health, wealth, and prosperity churches. After
running into a former acquaintance of mine whom I had not seen for quite a while, and who had been deeply involved in a health, wealth,
and prosperity church, when I asked her how she was, her only response was that she was fat, happy, and prosperous. It was obvious
that she had been indoctrinated to believe that God's perfect will for her was to be fat, happy, and prosperous. We arrogantly,
and mistakenly, trust in our material and financial resources, as well as our abilities to provide for ourselves. This emphasis on
wealth and self reliance cannot only be suddenly taken from us, but we can suddenly be taken from this wealth, through sudden and
unexpected death. Scriptures make it clear that, for the believer in Christ, it is not possible to trust in the provision of God the
Father and our abilities, resources and riches at the same time. Christ explained, Lay [amass, reserve] not up for yourselves treasures [deposit,
wealth] upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures
in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is,
there will your heart be also. The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of
light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how
great is that darkness! No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to
the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon [selfish desires, including lust for money and things] (Mat 6:19-24).If our desire is to follow the perfect will of God the Father, Jesus Christ instructs us that our lust for and pursuit of secular
and worldly things must not be our priority: if you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will
have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me. When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. Then
Jesus said to his disciples. I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it
is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. When the disciples heard
this, they were greatly astonished and asked,, who then can be saved? Jesus looked at them and said, with man this is impossible,
but with God all things are possible. Peter answered him, we have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us? Jesus
said to them, I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed
me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or
father or mother or children or fields [or riches, or material things] for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit
eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first (Mat 19:21-26).
Jesus taught the multitudes
who were following Him that the lust for riches can even choke the acceptance and spread of the gospel of salvation available through
faith in Christ. Referring to individuals who have heard the gospel of Christ, yet are distracted by the lusts in their lives, Christ
said, And these are they which are sown among thorns; such [individuals] as hear the word, And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness
of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke [crowd, drown out, strangle completely] the word [the seed of the gospel],and it [the gospel] becometh unfruitful (Mark 4:18-19). Solomon believed that riches are unreliable and fleeting: Labour [to become
tired due to our pursuit of, to work to the point of exhaustion] not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom. Wilt thou set thine
eyes upon that which is not [dependable, trustworthy]? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward
heaven (Proverbs 23:4-5). The apostle James instructs us with these words about the misery which results in our pursuit of riches:Go to now, ye rich men, weep [bewail] and howl [shriek] for your miseries [enduring trial, wretchedness, calamity] that shall come
upon you. Your riches are corrupted [putrefied, perishing], and your garments are motheaten. Your gold and silver is cankered [rusting,
corroded]; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure [riches] together
for the last days. Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud [deceitfully
deprived the laborers of], crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth. Ye have
lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter. Ye have condemned and killed
the just; and he doth not resist you (James 5:1-6). Scriptures instruct us about the danger of lusting after riches and abundance:He that trusteth in his riches shall fall: but the righteous shall flourish as a branch (Pro 11:28), as well as He that loveth silver
shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity. When goods increase, they are
increased that eat them: and what good is there to the owners thereof, saving the beholding of them with their eyes? (Ecc 5:10-11).
Additionally, wealth cannot deliver us from God's anger: Riches profit not in the day of [God's] wrath: but righteousness delivereth
from death (Pro 11:4). Paul instructed Timothy that riches are not reliable and lead to arrogance when he wrote, Charge them that
are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all
things to enjoy; That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; Laying up in store
for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life (1 Timothy 6:17-19).
IS GIVEN TO COVETOUSNESS
According to biblical scholars, greediness can also be defined as covetousness. The Merriam-Webster
dictionary defines covetousness as inordinate desire for wealth or possessions, or for another's possessions. Within the old covenant,
the word covetousness is translated from the Hebrew word betsa, which means unjust plunder, dishonest gain, lucre, or profit. Within
the new covenant, the word covetousness is translated from the Greek word leonexia, which means avarice, fraudulent, extortion, or
greediness. As we can see, in both the old and new covenants, coveting is similarly defined as strong desire for dishonest gain through
fraudulence or extortion. So, what does God throughout the scriptures say about coveting and covetousness?
First of all, we must
admit, ft we are honest with ourselves, that everyone periodically covets to some degree. The prophet Jeremiah instructs us that from
the least of them even unto the greatest of them every one is given to covetousness; and from the prophet even unto the priest every
one dealeth falsely (Jer 6:13). Because coveting is do dangerous to our spiritual life, God the Father made coveting one of the ten
commandments given to Moses. God specifically commands those who have a covenant and loving relationship with Him not to covet: Thou
shalt not covet [delight in, greatly love, desire, lust after] thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor
his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's (Exodus 20:17).
that regarding its leaders, the Christian church shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating
covetousness [unjust gain, lucre, dishonest profit]; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds,
rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens (Exo 18:21). The psalmist advises, Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness (Psa
119:36), for he that hateth covetousness shall prolong his days (Pro 28:16). Within the scriptures, all sin is considered a form of
coveting. According to the scriptures, sin became possible because of the potential for the violation of God's standards within the
law, while lust became possible when God's law commanded us not to covet. The apostle Paul explains, What shall we say then? Is the
law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.
But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead. For I was
alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died (Rom 7:7-9). In other words, our lust to fulfill
our own desires becomes evident when God the Father instructs and requires us to do just the opposite, and we blatantly choose to
be disobedient to His will.
Finally, the Lord tells us that covetousness comes from within our heart, and defiles us: That which
cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications,
murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things
come from within, and defile the man (Mark 7:20-23); therefore, we are warned by Christ, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for
a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth (Luke 12:15). Therefore, because lust and coveting
comes from our own hearts, we should ask God to help us identify and eliminate all covetousness within our hearts and lives.
THAT IS IN THE WORLD IS LUST
We may not recognize it, or admit it, but lust is everywhere. It is found in the entire world. Lust
is the source of most of man's problems, which include injustice, bullying, dishonesty, racism, imperialism, war, improper and destructive
thoughts, oppression, family breakdown, crime, personal and social immorality, selfishness, aggression and violence, pride, murder,
laziness, arrogance, obesity, corruption, loneliness, interpersonal conflicts, infidelity, hatred, bitterness, marital and family
problems, poverty. Other problems resulting from our lust and greed are personal and national debt, drug and alcohol abuse, gambling,
pornography, obesity, sexual impurities and immorality, class struggle, political conflict and confrontation, and the lust for money
and things, as well as a thousand others. If we carefully examine our own lives, whether our issues and problems involve ones mentioned
above, or others not mentioned above, we will find that lust of one sort or another is the root cause of these issues.
our lust for worldly things, the apostle John warns, Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love
the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh [the desire to fulfill our carnal
desires and needs], and the lust of the eyes [things we see in the world], and the [lusting for the] pride of life, is not of the
Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever(1 John 2:15-17). All that is in the world is not Godly, but worldly, and even demonic. The apostle James links our lusts with interpersonal
and international conflict when he posed the question, From whence come [what is the reason for] wars and fightings among you? come
they not hence, even [specifically] of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, andcannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not (James 4:1-2). The lustful drive to get what we want and get
it now is very strong; and when we don't get what we are lusting after, we become angry and frustrated. This anger and frustration
leads to violence of one form or another.
What do the scriptures say about lust? First of all, the scriptures clearly link our
lusts with our anger, frustration, aggression, and violence. Look what Pharaoh said after God delivered Israel from his control and
enslavement: Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the LORD, and spake, saying, I will sing unto the LORD, for
he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea. The LORD is my strength and song, and he is become
my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father's God, and I will exalt him. The LORD is a man of war:
the LORD is his name. Pharaoh's chariots and his host hath he cast into the sea: his chosen captains also are drowned in the Red sea.
The depths have covered them: they sank into the bottom as a stone. Thy right hand, O LORD, is become glorious in power: thy right
hand, O LORD, hath dashed in pieces the enemy. And in the greatness of thine excellency thou hast overthrown them that rose up against
thee: thou sentest forth thy wrath, which consumed them as stubble. And with the blast of thy nostrils the waters were gathered together,
the floods stood upright as an heap, and the depths were congealed in the heart of the sea. The enemy [Pharaoh and the Egyptians] said,
I will pursue, I will overtake, [the Israelites] I will divide the spoil [of Israels goods]; my lust shall be satisfied upon them;I will draw my sword, my hand shall destroy them. Thou didst blow with thy wind, the sea covered them: they sank as lead in the mighty
waters (Exodus 15:1-10). After God the Father delivered Israel from the hand of Pharaoh, God also hardened the heart of Pharaoh (Exodus
14:4). Pharaoh then became angry and frustrated, and purposed in his heart that he was going to punish Israel for their deliverance
by destroying them. Pharaoh, himself, shockingly admitted that the reason he was determined to punish Israel with destruction was
his own lust.
The psalmist instructs us, that, after God had supernaturally and miraculously delivered Israel from Egyptian bondage,
Israel became thirsty and hungry and began to lust for food and water. Israel began to doubt that God the Father, in spite of the
miracles He had already performed, could or would provide them with food and drink, and they became frustrated, impatient, and angry
with God. The psalmist tell us: Marvellous things did he in the sight of their fathers, in the land of Egypt, in the field of Zoan.
He divided the sea, and caused them to pass through; and he made the waters to stand as an heap. In the daytime also he led them with
a cloud, and all the night with a light of fire. He clave the rocks in the wilderness, and gave them drink as out of the great depths.
He brought streams also out of the rock, and caused waters to run down like rivers. And they sinned yet more against him by provoking
the most High in the wilderness. And they tempted God in their heart by asking meat for their lust. Yea, they spake against God; they
said, Can God furnish a table in the wilderness [and satisfy our lust for food and water]? Behold, he smote the rock, that the waters
gushed out, and the streams overflowed; can he give [us] bread also? can he provide flesh for his people [as well]? (Psalms 78:12-20).
Israel's lust separated them from their God, resulting in the destruction of many. Also, because of Israel's own lust, and therefore,
unwillingness to obey God, He withheld from them victory over their enemies. The psalmist explains: I am the LORD thy God, which brought
thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it. But my people would not hearken to my voice; and Israel would
none of me. So I gave them up unto their own hearts' lust: and they walked in their own counsels. Oh that my people had hearkened
unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways! I should soon have subdued their enemies, and turned my hand against their adversaries (Psa
Paul instructs us that the sin of homosexuality is the result of refusing to glorify and thank God the Father. Paul
wrote believers in Rome, For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold
the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the
invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal
power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were
thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became
fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts,
and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own
bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator,
who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use
into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward
another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. And
even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not
convenient (Rom 1:18-28). Homosexuals [as well as all sinners] worship and serve themselves more than their Creator, lust after one
another in a way that is unnatural, and according to Gods righteousness and standards receive in themselves the appropriate reward
for their error.
One of the reasons that God the Father gave us the holy scriptures was to instruct us in what not to lust after
and do. For example, Paul wrote to the Corinthian church, Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all
our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; And
did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed
them: and that Rock was Christ. But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these
things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. Neither be ye idolaters, as were
some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. Neither let us commit fornication, as some
of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were
destroyed of serpents. Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. Now all these things
happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition [to get our attention, to serve as a rebuke or warning], upon
whom the ends of the world are come (1 Cor 10:1-11). The example of the Israelites of old lusting after evil things was given so that
we will not lust after evil things. They were written for our admonition, that is, to get our attention, to teach us and to warn us
what not to do. One method of resisting our own lust and greed is to live and respond, to the extent possible, according to the guidance
of God's Holy Spirit within our own lives. Scriptures direct us to Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye
cannot do the things that ye would (Gal 5:17).
We also know from the scriptures that lust results in worldly corruption, and
that believers in Christ are to escape this corruption so that we may receive God's promises, and therefore lead and experience a
divine life. The apostle Peter explained, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness,
through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises:that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust (2 Peter
1:3-4). The believer in Christ can be delivered from the temptations of lust and greed, as Peter later added: The Lord knoweth how
to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished: But chiefly them that
walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to
speak evil of dignities (2 Peter 2:9-10).
Lastly, we must acknowledge that all that the world consists of is lust, lust is worldly,
lust is not the will of God, and that lust will not last forever. As the scriptures tell us, For all that is in the world, the lust of
the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride [lust for importance and significance] of life, is not of the Father, but is of
the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever (1 John 2:16-17).
Because our greed involves our lusting after what we want, greed can certainly be defined as idolatry, which God
and the scriptures strictly prohibit. Within the new testament, idolatry can be defined as the worship of a image or heathen God.
In a more general sense, idolatry can be thought of as the worship of anything other than God, including self or worldly things. Within
the old testament, we see where King Saul disobeyed specific instructions from God to completely destroy Amalek. Saul was disobedient
to the word of the Lord, and destroyed only selected parts of Amalek, the parts he thought appropriate. Chastening Saul for his disobedience,
the prophet Samuel said to Saul, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the
LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the [sacrifice of the] fat of rams. For rebellion [to make God
bitter through disobedience] is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness [insist on getting our own way and will] is as iniquity
and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king. And Saul said unto Samuel,
I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD, and thy words: because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice.
Now therefore, I pray thee, pardon my sin, and turn again with me, that I may worship the LORD (1 Samuel 15:22-25). God the Father
wants us to seek not our own will and desires, but to seek His will, and then be strictly and completely obedient to His will and
words. To do otherwise is considered by God to be idolatry. Even Jesus Christ, when facing the horrors of crucifixion, told His heavenly
Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done (Luke 22:42).
When Israel was
delivered from Egypt, Paul tells us that with many of them [the Israelites] God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in
the wilderness. Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. Neither
be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. Neither let us
commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. Neither let us tempt Christ, as some
of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the
destroyer. Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the
world are come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. There hath no temptation taken you but such as
is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation
also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry. I speak as to wise men;
judge ye what I say (1 Cor 10:5-15). The idolatry that Israel committed before the Lord was that they lusted after their own desires
and needs being met, including eating, drinking, and playing. They focused on themselves, and abandoned their focus on God. Paul described
the behavior of the Israelites as idolatry, and instructed the Corinthian church to abandon their similar self-will and self-rule,
their self-idolatry. Paul bluntly wrote the Corinthians, neither be ye idolaters, as were some of the Israelites. It can't be more
plain than that.
Likewise, Paul explained to the Galatian church that seeking and doing our own will is a work of our flesh,
is considered by God to be idolatry, and those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Paul wrote them, This I say
then, Walk in [live according to the will of] the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against [resists
the operation and will of] the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot
do the things that ye would [like to do]. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are
manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations,
wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as
I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God (Gal 5:16-21). Paul also warned
the church in Colossae, Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil
concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience:
In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them. But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy,
filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put
on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him (Col 3:5-10). Paul instructed the Colossian
church members to eliminate from their lives all covetousness, all lusting after their own will, because the wrath of God will come
upon those who are disobedient to God and idolatrous.
WAYS TO DEAL WITH GREED
We, as human beings, all lust after and experience
greediness periodically, even believers in Christ. Within our subject verses, however, Solomon instructs us that we do not and will
not get away with our lust and greed. There will eventually be consequence to our greediness. Solomon warns us that our greed taketh
away the life of the owners thereof, meaning that greed takes away life. Greed destroys and kills. Greed often leads to worldly anxiety,
shame, brokenness, and even legal punishment, but more importantly, the most important life which greed destroys is our relationship
to and our love of God the Father, His son Christ, and the Holy Spirit.
However, the scriptures provide us with several appropriate
instructions in our efforts to deal with greed. One scriptural answer to the lusting of greediness is simply to make an effort to
be contented with the basics of life, such as food and raiment; we came into the world with nothing and we shall leave this world
with nothing. We are encouraged to make godliness, not worldliness, our priority. The apostle Paul exhorted Timothy, godliness with
contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and
raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful
lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after,
they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows (1 Timothy 6:6-10).
Another method of dealing
with our lustful temptations, including greed, is to accept God's discipline and the methods with which He corrects and humbles us.
Sometimes our greediness takes the form of pride and the desire for glory. Eventually, we all, at some point, crave to be publicly
recognized for our talents, abilities, strengths, or accomplishments. The apostle Paul even experienced a temptation to the greediness
of pride and glory, and gives us his instructive response. The apostle wrote the Corinthian believers: It is not expedient [good,
profitable] for me [Paul] doubtless to glory. I will come to [have] visions and revelations of the Lord. I knew a man [this man is
possibly Paul himself] in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot
tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I
cannot tell: God knoweth;) How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man
to utter. Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities. For though I would desire [prefer,
delight in, rather have] to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of
me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me. And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance
of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above
measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for
thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of
Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for
Christ's sake: for when I am weak [in myself], then am I strong [in God] (2 Cor 12:1-10). Because of his visions, revelations, and
possible rapture to the third heaven, Paul was greedily tempted with pride and glory. He was tempted, in his own words, to allow himself
to be exalted by others. However, Paul knew that to allow himself to be glorified by others would be, in his words, foolish. In the
end, God the Father gave Paul, for his own good, a thorn in the flesh to keep him humble. The apostle wisely realized it was in his
best interest not only to suffer with this thorn God had given him, but to even take pleasure in this suffering. Paul knew, and had
experienced, that when he was weak, God could and would be strong through him.
Another method of dealing with our weaknesses
is to realize that no matter what temptations we have, God is still in control, and that God can still work things out for our best
interest, as well as that of others. Paul wrote the believers in Rome that the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities [weaknesses]: for
we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to
the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to
his purpose (Rom 8:26-28). When our weakness involves the lust of greed, we must try to remember that God the Father is capable of
appropriately dealing with the greed in those who love the Lord, and engineering all things to work together for our good.
more method of dealing with greed is to seek the wisdom and direction of the Lord, and then be obedient to His guidance and instructions.
In the book of Job, Elihu said, Suffer me a little, and I will shew thee that I have yet to speak on God's behalf. I will fetch my
knowledge from afar, and will ascribe righteousness to my Maker. For truly my words shall not be false: he that is perfect in knowledge
is with thee. Behold, God is mighty, and despiseth not any: he is mighty in strength and wisdom. He preserveth not the life of the
wicked: but giveth right to the poor. He withdraweth not his eyes from the righteous: but with kings are they on the throne; yea,
he doth establish them for ever, and they are exalted. And if they be bound in fetters, and be holden in cords of affliction; Then
he sheweth them their work, and their transgressions that they have exceeded. He openeth also their ear to discipline, and commandeth
that they return from iniquity. If they obey and serve him, they shall spend their days in prosperity, and their years in pleasures (Job
36:2-11). If we have weakness or temptations in any area, including tendencies to greed, the God who is perfect in knowledge, who
despises no one, who is mighty in strength and wisdom, who does not withdraw his eyes from the righteous, who will show us our transgressions,
and who shall open our ears to His discipline, shall cause us, if we obey His instructions and respond favorably to His corrections,
to live in prosperity. This is God the Father's promise.
Regarding our lust, greed, and covetousness, the scriptures give us
another very basic piece of advice. We are directly and simply warned throughout the scriptures not to covet, because covetousness
has temporal and physical, as well as spiritual and eternal, consequences. For example, Paul teaches us that those who covet or are
greedy shall not enter the kingdom of God, Christ, and heaven: Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love,
as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour. But fornication,
and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking,
nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor
covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God (Eph 5:1-5). In combating our tendencies
to lust and greed, Paul advised the church in Philippi [and us] to Let your moderation [gentle as opposed to aggressive, mild as opposed
to extreme, patient as opposed to inappropriately ambitious] be known unto all men. [because] The Lord is at hand (Philippians 4:5).
highly sensible and bible-based approach of dealing with greed is to simply learn to be content in whatever state we are in. For example,
Paul wrote the church in Philippi, I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content [self-complacent, consider to
be enough, think of as sufficient] . I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed
both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me (Php
4:11-13). In his life and ministry, Paul had experienced need, as well as provision, and he had learned to be contented with whatever
state he was in and with whatever he had at the time. In whatever state he was currently in, the apostle Paul knew, believed, and
trusted that Christ would provide for him and comfort him.
Scriptures plainly instruct us to eliminate covetousness from our
lives. Paul wrote the believers in Colossae, Mortify [subdue, make a corpse of, put to death, eliminate] therefore your members [parts
of your body or life] which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness [greediness],
which is idolatry: For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: In the which ye also walked some
time, when ye lived in them. But now ye also put off [cast off, put away, eliminate from our lives] all these; anger, wrath, malice,
blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;
And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him (Col 3:5-10).. Believers in Christ
are not only to eliminate our old ways involving greediness from our lives, but we are to put on a new life that is transformed and
renewed according to our knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Greed, lust, covetousness, and idolatry are the result of the worldly and
demonic works of Satan, and the result can be catastrophic. To deal with greed, Christ commanded his own disciples to deny their own
wants and needs, and to put Christ first: ...Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow
me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall
save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange
for his soul? Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall
the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels (Mark 8:35-38). The Lord makes it abundantly
clear that our greedy pursuit of worldly things can result in, among many other undesirable things, the eternal loss of our own soul.
Yet many in the contemporary Christian church continue, with every ounce of strength within them, their greedy, covetous, idolatrous
and damning pursuit of the things of the world. We all should wisely heed the words and directions of the Lord, and deny ourselves
of this sin of greediness. AMEN.