Greed Is Good

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After last week’s diversion to the end of Luke for Easter Sunday, today we resumed our studies looking at the teaching of Jesus in Luke ch12.

Before looking at the passage, Pastor David quoted from the film Wall Street starring Michael Douglas and Charlie Steen:

“Greed is good, greed is right, greed works......Greed in all its forms, for life, for money, for love, has marked the upward surge of mankind.”

Michael Douglas

Our chapter begins with Jesus on his way to Jerusalem, followed by a crowd of many thousands. Jesus is teaching his disciples and any who are listening about some of the dangers they will face along the way of following him, dangers that could get in the way of their discipleship. Four of the dangers we have already looked at: hypocrisy, fear, disowning him and the grave danger of blaspheming the Holy Spirit.

As Jesus is teaching, someone in the crowd interrupts with a request:

“Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”

Luke 12:13

Was he listening to Jesus or was he full of his own thoughts? His request had no connection to the teaching of Jesus just now. Jesus responds with a question:

“Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbitrator between you?”

Luke 12:14

One day Jesus would be appointed judge, but right now this family quarrel was not his problem.

Guard against greed

Jesus sees the real issue here – a danger that can seriously affect Christian life and witness:

“Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed.”

Luke 12:15

There is clearly more than one type of greed, but Jesus warns against them all: greed for wealth, for pleasure, success, friends, fame, attention, but primarily for money and possessions. David likened greed to a termite – it’s out of sight but boring deep into our hearts. Jesus knew how it can affect our Christian discipleship. Greed is lethal; it’s a deadly sin.

Jesus then tells a parable – the only one he told where God is one of the main characters – about a rich man who has had an abundant harvest. He asks himself: “What shall I do?” (v17) and answers his own question: “l will build bigger barns…Take life easy, eat, drink and be merry.” (v18)

But what does God say?

“You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you.”

Luke 12:20

Here is a rich man – someone already well off, with a rich harvest, BUT GREED kicks in.

He chooses to hoard it all for himself with no thought of gratitude or sharing – it is all about himself. A selfish attitude takes over, he indulges himself, talks to himself and is totally self-absorbed.

Look again at verses 16-21. They are dominated by “I” and “my” – “what will I do?”, “my crops”, “my barns”, “my surplus” – 10 personal pronouns!!

Consider David’s interesting comment:

“The problem is not with riches; the problem is always with us.”

At this point God enters the story and speaks:

“You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you”

Luke 20:20

The guy had no tomorrow. Someone else was going to get what he had prepared for himself.

Having money is not a problem; being rich is not wrong, but the things that can be wrong are our attitudes – how we feel about it and how tightly we hold on to it for ourselves. 

The importance of being rich

This man was materially affluent but spiritually bankrupt. Jesus is saying we should be rich towards God. David left us with 3 ways to do this:

  1. Do good
  2. Be generous
  3. Be willing to share
  • Will this incident and parable affect/alter our current attitude to money and personal possessions?
  • Has the deadly sin of greed crept into our lives – is it boring deep into our hearts?
  • Are we truly rich – rich towards God?
Isobel Thompson

Isobel Thompson

Isobel Thompson