What the Bible Says About Greed

Updated on October 13, 2019
revmjm profile image

Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher. She writes many articles that are Bible lessons.

Greed: Definition

Greed is defined as having an intense and selfish desire for something. That desire can be for material gain, power, status, wealth, food, sex, or for something else. The longing is also referred to as avarice. Often the desire is to obtain and possess more than one actually needs or deserves.

Greed is not for the greater good for everyone else. Instead, it is for a person's own selfish interest. Greed can be for anything but is most commonly for food, money, possessions, power, fame, status, attention, or sex.

Greed is considered to be one of the seven deadly sins. The list includes pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath, and sloth.

What Experts Say About Greed

Erich Seligmann Fromm was a social psychologist, psychologist, psychoanalyst, sociologist, humanistic philosopher, and democratic socialist. The German Jew who fled the Nazi regime and settled in the United States defined greed as "a bottomless pit which exhausts the person in an endless effort to satisfy the need without ever reaching satisfaction." In other words, a person might have an insatiable urge for something, but when he gets it, he wants more.

Thomas Aquinas was an Italian Dominican friar, influential philosopher, Catholic priest, theologian, and doctor of the church. He knew a lot about human emotions. He said greed is "a sin against God." He justified his definition by saying man neglects eternal things by choosing temporal things.

Meher Baba was an Indian spiritual master who said, "Greed is a state of restlessness of the heart, and it consists mainly of craving for power and possessions." He concluded by saying when a man gets what he greeds for, he is still left dissatisfied and empty.

In Dante's Purgatory, greedy people were punished by being bound and forced to lie face down on the ground because they concentrated too much on earthly thoughts and possessions.

The Bible Warns Against Greed

God warns people about greed because He knew people would be tempted to accumulate material things. Often, greed opens the door to other sins and we find ourselves falling farther from God and what He has for our lives. We must be careful to protect our hearts and minds against greed and to practice satisfaction and contentment.

Luke 12:15 states, "Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

First Corinthians 6:10 says, "Nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God."

According to Ecclesiastes 5:10, "Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless."

Proverbs 11:18 says. "Those who trust in their riches will fall, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf."

Proverbs 15:27 indicates, "The greedy bring ruin to their households, but the one who hates bribes will live."

Barn | Source

Biblical Example of Greed

Jesus told a parable in Luke 12:16-21 which is a good example of greed and what happened to a certain man who was greedy. The man already had an abundant harvest. Yet he wanted to build bigger barns so he could store more crops. He decided to tear down his existing barns and build bigger ones. Then he said to himself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”

The man left God out of his decision. Therefore, God said to him, "You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?

The interpretation of this parable is that this is how it will be with those who store up things for themselves but is not rich toward God. They want to accumulate more temporal things than focusing on spiritual things.

What's Wrong With Being Greedy?

Some people might think there is nothing wrong with being greedy. However, there is a lot wrong with being greedy. We should be satisfied with what God has allowed us to have. Sinful actions are associated with greed because the deep-rooted desire might lead to sinful living.

For instance, a person might steal from banks, his own family, his neighbors and other individuals to get what he wants. Many people are in prison today for killing someone to get what they wanted.

Do you know any greedy peope?

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    • revmjm profile imageAUTHOR

      Margaret Minnicks 

      5 months ago from Richmond, VA

      Thanks, Jason, for your kind remark. I like Erich Seligmann Fromm's definition also. I think it says a great deal about what greed really is. As always, thanks for reading and commenting.

    • Jason Capp profile image

      Jason Reid Capp 

      5 months ago from Tokyo, Japan

      Ooh, boy. That Erich Seligmann Fromm definition of greed is enough to merit writing this article. That was a perfectly accurate assessment, and I know too many people in my life with such an insatiable desire.

      Once again, awesome stuff, Margaret! I love your take on subjects like this and how you assess them.

    • Cheryl E Preston profile image

      Cheryl E Preston 

      5 months ago from Roanoke

      Great teaching on greed. You really explained it.


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