Greed is Good | A Counterargument From Proverbs

by Tim on April 8, 2011

A symptom of greed: Get Rich Quick Schemes

“Greed Is Good”

Gordon Gekko made the phrase famous in the 1987 movie Wall Street.  How could such a catchy phrase take off and fizzle in just a few years?  It’s obvious that there’s a fundamental flaw with the idea that greed can be good, and you don’t have to come up with brand new reasons to answer why.

Let’s look through four key verses in Proverbs that outline the lifecycle of greed.

Greed Phase 1: Your Fate Is Set

Proverbs 1:19
Such is the fate of all who are greedy for money; it robs them of life.

Did you notice how this verse didn’t say only some with be robbed of life because of greed?  In less than 55 words, this proverb gives a warning to anyone who thinks greed is good.  (You could fill a tweet twice over with this one verse!)  But wouldn’t you argue that money would buy you the best life ever imagined?  Not according to this advice…and that’s only the beginning.

Greed Phase 2: Get Rick Quick

Proverbs 28:22
Greedy people try to get rich quick but don’t realize they’re headed for poverty.

If your method of making money is promoted via late night infomercials, it probably fits into this category.  When you try to make up for lost time by looking for ultra speculative or very risky investments (yes like commoditites or currencies), you’ll most likely end up hurting yourself rather than helping your savings.

Greed Phase 3: Greed Rejects Trust

Proverbs 28:25
Greed causes fighting; trusting the Lord leads to prosperity.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t plan ahead – I believe that being a careful steward of our money isn’t something to be substituted with blind faith.  There is a balance between faith and planning.  Greed however, goes beyond the planning ahead phase and puts you in a place where nothing else matters as much.  At this stage, trusting God seems, well, irrelevant or at least secondary to what’s important to you – chasing those dollars.

Greed Phase 4: Being Rich Isn’t Everything

Proverbs 23:4
Don’t wear yourself out trying to get rich. Be wise enough to know when to quit.

Why would anyone tell you not to try to become rich?  That’s because there’s wisdom in knowing when to stop chasing, well, almost anything.  From more money, to bigger homes, fancier cars, expensive meals, or the latest gadgets, knowing when to say ‘enough is enough’ will help you to put things back into perspective.

I know most of you probably aren’t struggling with greed – but I think we all have a hint or though every once in a while that can throw off our priorities.  Hopefully these verses can give you a quick visual of how greed can eat away at lives and help you to stay on track with the things that matter most in your life.

Readers: True confessions time –Do you struggle with greed? If so, how? If not, how do you avoid this struggle?

Tim is a personal finance writer at Faith and Finance a Christian financial help blog that provides financial insights for individuals, businesses, and churches. Outside of finance, Tim enjoys spending time with his wife, playing the saxophone, reading economics books, and a good game of RISK or Catan. Find him on Twitter and Facebook and subscribe to the Faith and Finance RSS feed.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

optionsdude April 9, 2011 at 12:33 pm

Greed is not good as you state. But I think that many confuse greed with wealth which can cause confusion in today’s society. Remember that Proverbs was written by the wealthiest man in all of history. And yet that wasn’t his sin. His sin came in failing to be obedient.

I don’t believe that investment is wrong either. In the parable of the talents, the master calls in his 3 servants and gives to each talents in differing amounts. The first 2 double their master’s money but gladly return it to him when he returns. The wicked servant wastes the talent that was provided to him and does nothing productive.

Sloth and greed are two extremes along the same spectrum. As always, moderation is key.

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Tim @ Faith and Finance April 11, 2011 at 9:30 am

Couldn’t have said it better optionsdude.

I think greed is one of those things that can be hard to identify on a personal level if you’re not spending time reflecting on scripture and setting aside time for prayer.

Thanks for the well constructed comment!
Tim

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