Greed is the state of wanting more than you need. It’s never a good look. It’s the attitude that says, “More, more, more!” when there is no legitimate purpose or reason for it.
People can be greedy because of status. They buy into the lie that you are what you own. They are under the erroneous assumption that having more means they are somehow a better person than those who have less.
People can be greedy because they are putting their trust in whatever it is they have rather than putting their trust in God who allows us to have whatever it is we have in the first place.
People can be greedy because they mistakenly believe the goal of life is to have more, more, more.
I suppose the worst part of greed is that having too much can mean that those who have genuine needs will not have them met.
The beauty of God’s system under the old covenant was that everyone was taken care of. It was hard (but not impossible) to be greedy because God built benevolence into the system. If you were a landowner, you didn’t reap the edges of your fields, or go a second time through when gathering fruit, or pick up anything that dropped to the ground. You left it for those who were in need (Deuteronomy 24:19-22).
But you didn’t give it to them. They had to come to your field and harvest the grain or pick the fruit. In other words, they had to work. We see this principle at work in Ruth gleaning in the fields of Boaz (Ruth 2). Everyone worked and no one went hungry—that’s true social justice!
That system is no longer in place today as law given through Moses has been replaced by the new covenant of Christ. The law of giving we’re under today was expressed by Jesus in Matthew 10:8 when He told His apostles, “Freely you have received; freely give.” When you follow this principle, you are practicing generosity.
Generosity is the opposite of greed. It’s the willingness to share what you have with others. We see it practiced by the church in the early chapters in Acts (2:44-45, 4:32-35) and again when the Gentile churches took up a collection for the disciples in Judea (2 Corinthians 8-9).
It’s possible to be neither greedy nor generous. Someone can live simply—refusing to get caught up in the more, more, more of greed, but see no need to share what they have with others. Then there are those who will only give if it’s tax deductible. After all, they want to be a good steward—and giving only when they get a tax break is the way to do that. Well, there’s certainly nothing wrong with getting a tax break, but does anyone think Jesus would fail to help someone out because He wasn’t going to get a tax break for it? People are more important than tax breaks!
Let me close by moving away the financial because greed is about more than money. Greed in the larger sense is the tight-fisted, stingy spirit that refuses to give the word of praise, the benefit of the doubt, or a smile to a stranger. It is a miserly approach to life. Generosity is just the opposite. It is a gracious approach to life where we freely give because we have freely received. When we live generous lives, God is able to use us to bless others more, more, more.