By Peter Konz
As I read the article, “Is Greed So Bad?” by Ian Markham, I took issue with one of the main ideas presented by the author. Just reading the words “a basic greedy aspiration is not part of the fall, but part of the Imago Dei,” gave me reason to pause. The argument presented allows for some amount of greed to be viewed as good. Now I understand that greed is defined as an extreme desire, which can be seen as some sort of positive motivator. However, in scripture, when the word “greed” is thrown around it is generally seen as a negative.
For example, in Amos 8:4-7 we read, “Hear this who trample on the needy, and bring to ruin the poor of the land, saying, ‘When will the new moon be over so that we may sell grain and the Sabbath, so that we may offer wheat for sale? We will make the ephah small and the shekel great, and practice deceit with false balances, buying the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals and selling the sweepings of the wheat.’ The Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob: surely I will never forget any of their deeds.”
Obviously God is not pleased with greed. In the New Testament, we see Jesus confront those who were selling animals for sacrifice in the temple. We see him quite upset with the moneychangers, tipping over tables and chasing them out of the temple. He told them that they had made his Father’s house “a den of robbers” (Luke 19:45-46). Perhaps they had started out well-intentioned, providing a service, or were simply using their God-given desire to create jobs and stimulate the economy. Whatever the reason, greed and abuse of power kicked in. Desire is definitely a God-given part of our make-up, but greed is certainly a gross distortion of that God-given desire.
Desire does motivate us to push forward and to succeed either for ourselves or for others. If used as God intended, it is a wonderful and powerful “tool” for the good of all. In its extreme form, greed does not build people up or move us forward as people. In fact, it tears us apart and leaves a destructive wake in its path. We all know of the greed of individuals, organizations, and governments, in our world today. We can point to the people who have bilked millions of dollars from others who worked hard all their lives. Or those organizations that sell drugs, weapons, or people for their own gain and the governments who are abusing their own people, taking their land, raping, and enslaving them.
Our desires are indeed God-given and at the same time they need to be controlled by Him. We need to yield those desires to Him. We need His wisdom and strength to use them as he intends. In our fallen state, and left to our own devices, they will go awry and we will become “greedy.”
Read Peter Konz’s original perspective -- "Is Poverty Bad?"
Join the discussion -- Is Greed Good? here.
Photo by Muffet, courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons
7/28/2009 4:00:00 AM