The reality is that greed and accumulation are such a big part of our near universal prosperity-driven culture that we no longer even know how to identify them as temptations or even connect them with the concept of sin that is so central to Christian theology.
In the Bible, we are warned time and time again against wealth. Why? Is it ‘bad’ to desire a billion dollars? Is ambition ‘bad’? No, it isn’t.
But greed is bad, bad, bad. It has been cited as one of the seven deadly sins for a reason. It gets in the way of our relationships, of the joy of giving, as well as keeps us away from our deepest and truest priorities.
Our love for all that we have and all that we long to have isolates us from love. And love for who? Love for God and Love for Neighbour.
Each time any of us has given into the temptation of greed, we experience increased fear and anxiety; as well as decreased security. When it comes to our material well-being, we absolutely cannot afford to give into greed. It will cost us. It will cost us our family, our friends and our sanity.
Sometimes we turn so far in on our ourselves that that’s all we’ve got. Are we willing to be honest with ourselves about the temptations we face when we walk down our city’s shopping district? Are we willing to face up to the struggles we have with money? Are we willing to be honest about the way that our greed for money and power has interfered with our relationship with God as well as others?
God is not always generous with us. If the story of Joseph is anything to go by, then, there will be periods of abundance and periods of scarcity. During periods of abundance, we should exercise caution as there will come a period of lack, of naught and of material scarcity.
Regardless of the circumstances we find ourselves in, we should guard against overusing people or the environment to satisfy our selfish desires. The key word here is overusing. Too often we give in to greed without realising. We indulge ourselves when we should withhold.
This is not easy to acknowledge. Greed isn’t just about money or having a certain amount of it. It is about temptation. It is about sin. It is about having almost all the trees in the garden and choosing to eat from the one tree that has been forbidden to you.
To overcome the temptation of sin, one only needs to say, “Thank you, I have enough.” The opposite of more is not ‘less’. Rather, the opposite of ‘more’ is enough. It is to know and to stop at enough.