Is Greed a Sin in the Bible?

Is Greed a Sin in the Bible?
Written by Christopher Turk

Greed is one of the known seven deadly sins. Money is only one aspect of greed.  A person might be greedy not only for money, but also for fame, things, accolades, recognition, praises, gifts, and other things

We’ll delve more into what the Bible says about greed in this post.

What Does the Bible Say About Greed?

The phrases greed, greedily, greedy, and greediness are all used in the Bible to indicate a person’s selfish motivation.

Greed is a major sin that must be avoided, and money comes with a serious obligation to do good.

Greed is described in numerous ways in the Bible. One literally means “love of silver.” Another phrase used to translate the tenth commandment, “You shall not covet” (Rom. 7:7), is “desire.” It often relates to “lust.”

In relation to things, it means seeking what belongs to someone else. The major New Testament word for greed is derived from two roots that literally mean “to have more,” and it is frequently used in the context of taking advantage of another person. The major sense, though, is the want to have more and more stuff in order to please yourself.

According to Paul, greed is equivalent to idolatry and brings God’s anger (Col. 3:5). In other places (1 Cor. 6:9-10; Eph. 5:5), Jesus warns that the greedy will not enter God’s kingdom. He means that individuals whose lives are marked by avarice are not sincere Christians and will perish in hell. 

Paul warns the Corinthians (1 Cor. 5:10–11) to keep away from anyone who claims to be a Christian yet is a glutton. He even instructs them not to eat with such a person.

The Bible says that avarice steals life, according to Proverbs 1:19 and Proverbs 21:25–26.

Do You Think You Are Greedy?

Although biblical principles do apply in every circumstance, there are no absolutes to abide by. 

For instance, Paul contends that if you don’t support your own family, you’ve violated the faith and are worse than an atheist (1 Tim. 5:8). These are strong words. But you were also advised not to accumulate material wealth, but rather to put God’s kingdom first (Matt. 6:19, 33). How can you find balance?

Although the Bible acknowledges personal property rights (the rules against theft assume that I own certain things and you own others), there must be a fundamental feeling that God owns all I possess. I handle everything for Him, and when the time comes, I shall account to Him (Matt. 25:14-30; Rom. 14:10, 12).

It may be acceptable if you desire to provide more adequately for your family. But if you desire more only to buy bigger and better things that you don’t actually need, you may be succumbing to greed.

Some things should matter far more than money: God’s reputation through your Christian testimony; your connection with Jesus Christ; a strong moral compass; and your relationships with your spouse, children, and others.

You are greedy if you occasionally cheat, lie, or steal to get better off financially or to avoid loss. You are greedy if you are willing to destroy relationships or take advantage of another individual for financial gain. You are greedy if you are more concerned with making money than with being a testimony for Jesus Christ.

Overcoming Greed

Don’t give up if you find greed in your heart. Humans are predisposed to greed. This is easily observed when watching children, which is why we need to educate them to share.

By the power of God’s love, cultivating a giving and generous spirit will drive greed from our hearts. Giving and being kind is the remedy, according to 1 John 3:17 and 1 Timothy 6:16-17.

Christians must turn from sin, especially greed, and submit to God’s benevolent Holy Spirit so that He can enable us to live moral lives that are characterized by appreciation and giving (Ephesians 5:3-4).

Bottom Line

Greed places an incorrect value on temporal things. It regards temporal things as though they, and we, will live eternally on Earth. However, we may die today or have everything taken away from us in a moment. 

Greed also views eternal things as though they aren’t real and will never occur. But in eternity, this sliver of time we experience in life will appear as a flicker on the radar screen.

Commit your generosity to the Lord’s ministry with faith. The antidote to greed is altruism. Instead of giving if you have spare money, trust God by giving the most amount you can. Give with purpose and intention. Make an offering willingly so you can donate the money to the Lord’s cause.

About the author

Christopher Turk

Christopher is the lead elder/pastor of the local Christian church in Penticton, British Columbia. He has a dedication to serving his Lord's church and a pulpit competence that honors the legacy of his predecessor. Christopher is a passionate visionary for the Lord and His Kingdom! His church ministry background spans over 30 years of full-time service.

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