The Truth About Greed

“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money…” 2 Timothy 3:1-2 (NIV).

I and many others have used this passage profusely as a proof-text to establish that we are in the end time. It brings some closing arguments to the debate about the nearness of the second coming. Some argue that the text speaks more of the sureness than of the imminence of His soon return. However, the truth remains that this list tallies perfectly with the traits of our contemporary society. Hence, it is entirely relevant to talk about the question of “lovers of self” and “lovers of money.” This explains the attempt of our Stewardship Newsletter to unpack the issue of greed.

Interestingly, the characteristics “lovers of themselves” topped the list of Paul. Was it a mere coincidence? William Barclay affirms that “Love of self is the basic sin, from which all others flow.” Ellen White shares a similar view, “Selfishness is the essence of depravity, and because human beings have yielded to its power, the opposite of allegiance to God is seen in the world today.”[1] Greediness as the causal factor of other evils should not be minimized. As we work for the construction of a God-First culture, total allegiance to God, greediness needs to be addressed, though it is the dominant culture of today.

It is acceptable and even normal to seek for more, to be driven by dissatisfaction and to pursue an increase at the expense of God or others. I know of no one who has faced church discipline for the motive of greediness. However, Paul’s appeal is clear: “Have nothing to do with such people” 2 Tim. 3:5b (NIV). Is he calling us to stay aloof, to keep our distance with such people? Before adopting a course of conduct, it is wise to explore further about the identity of these people.

Where are we looking for the lovers of self and lovers of money? Across the border, over the fence or in the back pew? Unfortunately for us, they are even closer. Paul tells us that the “people,” “the lovers of self and money” have an appearance of godliness. They “worm their way into houses” which can mean they are attending home churches. And they apply themselves to teach others. As a stewardship educator, the profile of someone who is a spiritual, churchgoer and teacher sounds really familiar to me! Not you? Beware, no one is immune to the virus of greediness. In these last days, make sure that the greedy man or woman is not alive in you and me. Victory is possible: “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you’ ” Heb.13:5 (NIV).

[1] White, Ellen Gould, Counsels on Stewardship, p. 24

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