Greed: The Sin That Can Consume You

by Roger Barrier

Dear Roger,

I’ve been reading the New Testament and it surprises me how often Jesus referred to money.

For example, “He commended the widow who did not have much, but from what she did have, she gave it all to the Lord (Luke 21:1-4). 

He criticized the Pharisees for giving the tithe while at the same time they were rejecting the more important parts of sacrifice (Matthew 23:23.

Of course, in the parable of the talents he declared that those who invest well will receive more and those who don’t invest well will lose its all (Matthew 25:14-30).

So, I was taken a little aback when I came to 1 Timothy 6 and read how harshly the apostle Paul dealt with those Christians who are not managing their money well! Can you please draw for us some lessons from Paul’s teaching us. 

Sincerely, Mark


Dear Mark,

I think that the best way to answer your question is by taking each verse and learning from it.

FIRST, “Godliness With Contentment Is Great Gain” (1 Timothy 6:6).

This is perhaps the most succinct statement of the Biblical philosophy of money in all of the Bible.

SECOND, “For We Brought Nothing Into The World, And We Can Take Nothing Out Of It. But If We Have Food And Clothing, We Will Be Content With That “(1 Timothy 6 7-8).

Food and clothing refer to the bare essentials of life.  Notice that he says nothing about having shelter–a house. This doesn’t mean that God doesn’t want us to have a house. Many verses teach on that. He is saying that the basic essentials are enough.

THIRD, “People Who Want To Get Rich Fall Into Temptation And A Trap And Into Many Foolish And Harmful Desires That Plunge Men Into Ruin And Destruction “(1 Timothy 6:9).

That is quite a strong verse, isn’t it? In other words, those who set a goal in life of accumulating wealth fall into a trap that leads to ruin and destruction.

FOURTH, Money Is Not The Root Of All Evil

The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.

There is nothing wrong with having money or being rich.

It is the “love of money that is the root of all kinds of evil.”

(1 Timothy 6:10a).

The issues are our attitudes and the desires of our hearts!

Now, Paul gets very personal with Christians.

FIFTH, “Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith” (1 Timothy 6:10b).

“The faith” here is the Christian faith. This is doctrinal truth as contained in the Bible.

“Eagerness for money” will cause Christians to wander away from Christianity.

The phrase “eager for money”, is a Greek a word which means to stretch oneself out in other to touch or grasp something. It describes the Christian who is reaching out after material wealth.

Let me give some symptoms of what materialism can look like.

  • Overspending

  • Compulsive Buying

  • Holding on to more wealth than we need (Hoarding)

  • Failing to give God the top portion of our income

  • Borrowing money for depreciating items

  • Cheating on our income tax

  • Using a credit card and not paying off or being able to pay off the balance completely at the end of the month

  • Getting nervous or upset when the pastor preaches on money

SIXTH, Grasping after wealth sets into motion a reverse spiritual growth process. If the trend continues, our sin natures can produce any brand of sin—and trap—imaginable.

Oh, so you think that I am overstating the case! Look at the last phrase in verse 10.

“and pierced themselves with many griefs” (1 Timothy 6:10c).

“Pierced themselves” is an interesting phrase. It literally means to put on a spit. You know what a spit is…you put a raw piece of meat on a spit and roast it over an open fire.

I want you to get the picture. Instead of putting a piece of chicken or beef on a spit, suppose you put a live human being on the spit and turn him over and over again and roast him on an open fire.

The materials used to start the fire are the things after which he or she was grasping.

I know some people who are being tortured emotionally, mentally, financially, and physically…and if you trace it all back, it may very well lead right back to an unbiblical philosophy of money.

Do you think that those are strong words? I haven’t been able to find any stronger words in the Bible addressed to Christians than these right here.

Paul is telling us that the unbeliever who is guilty of this sin will end up in Hell and the Christian who is guilty of this sin will end up with a ruined and defeated life.

SEVENTH, God’s plan for finances is that we have a surplus so we can give some away every month.

Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share” (1 Timothy 6:18).

The reason so many of us say we can’t afford to care for the poor, or give to God, or invest in the kingdom, is because we have already spent it all on ourselves!

EIGHTH, Materialism Can Lead Us To The Place Where We Actually Sell Our Souls For Worthless Things.

It has been said that every person has his or her price—that is especially true if you are a materialist.

I hope that is not true about you. I hope you are priceless.

There was once a fancy banquet in a high-class New York hotel. A famous author sat next to a very beautiful and gracious woman. He was awestruck by her beauty.

As they sat through the meal and talked, he finally asked her if she would spent the night with him for $100,000.

She blushed, looked down, and finally said, yes.

He said, “Would you do it for ten dollars?”

She protested “What do you think I am?”

He replied, “We’ve already established that; now we’re working on the price.”

Do you get the message? It isn’t the price that’s the issue. It’s what you are in your heart.  Some of us have sold out our spiritual hearts and eternal future for things we cannot hold onto.

NINTH, Unless we are involved in a continuous deprogramming and reprogramming process we will drift automatically into the sin of materialism.

Victory occurs when our rotten, materialistic, human viewpoint in be flushed out and replaced by the divine eternal truth of the Word of God.

We turn on the TV or radio at any time of the day or night . . . We get into a conversation with just about anybody at school or work . . . We pick up any newspaper or go to any movie—and we are being programmed to think like materialists.

We are being programmed to seek a higher standard of living than we now have . . . to borrow money for depreciating items . . . to spend now and save nothing . . . to buy things that we do not need. And, it is happening automatically. We don’t have to do a thing. It is all around us.

We see a new pop star drive up in a limo with a Jaguar in her lap! The priests of mammon are telling us that we can drive a 1990 Chevrolet if we want; but if we want to get the attention of beautiful girls we’ll have to buy a new car fully-loaded!

The priests of Mammon are everywhere – indoctrinating us with the idea that true joy, life and happiness can always be found if we just have enough money to spend! So Americans all across our land are chasing after and bowing down to the God Mammon!

“But, you man of God, flee from all this and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves…. So that they may take hold of the life that is truly life. Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves…” as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly live” (1 Timothy 6:19).

TENTH, The Only Inflation-Proof Investment In The Universe Is The Investment In The Lord’s Work.

People are always looking for good investments. People are asking, “Where should I invest my money to beat inflation? Should I buy stocks… gold… silver… bonds… real estate?” Those are difficult questions to answer because there are times when gold is a great investment… times when it is a bad investment… real estate goes up… then down.

But I want you to know that It is the only one.

Study and meditate on Proverbs 3:9-10:

“Honor the Lord with your wealth,
with the firstfruits of all your crops;
then your barns will be filled to overflowing,
and your vats will brim over with new wine.”

If you’ll permit me to put that in 21th century language, what he is saying here is that the first part of every dollar of income is to be used to honor the Lord.

Do you see the inflation hedge in that verse? Study this and you’ll see that the only inflation-proof investment is right here in these verse .

You can’t beat this kind of investment.

And it all begins at the point of commitment when we decide to serve God instead of money. Jesus said that it is impossible to serve two masters.

Now, many have tried since the beginning of creation and nobody has ever pulled it off yet. You and I will not be the first exceptions. You must make a choice. God or money. Who will it be?


Dear Mark,

I hope that you’ll find this helpful as you use your money wisely for the kingdom.

Love, Roger






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