But the bigger problem in the church may well be with greed for just gain. In other words, the reason that most of us believe that the employee who steals from his or her employer is wrong may have more to do with the dishonest means that the employee uses and less to do with the greed that leads to the dishonesty. Surely in our list of commonly tolerated sins, greed belongs near the top.
We need to remember that the Bible speaks just as harshly about greed for honest gain as it does about greed for dishonest gain. In 1 Corinthians 6:10, for instance, Paul includes greed in his catalog of sins that will keep us from inheriting the kingdom of God. In 2 Peter 2:2–3, Peter links greed with sensuality and blasphemy. And in Psalm 10:3, the psalmist even goes so far as to say that “the one greedy for gain curses and renounces the Lord.”
But perhaps the clearest teaching on the dangers of greed comes from the mouth of our Lord Jesus Himself in Luke 12. Here Jesus defines greed as “laying up treasure” for oneself and not being rich toward God (v. 21) and then goes on to warn us that “where [our] treasure is, there will [our] heart be also” (v. 34). His point is that greed, all by itself, whether justly or unjustly expressed, is an indication that our hearts are set on this world rather than on God. If that remains true for us over the entire course of our lives, we will find ourselves among those who at the last day call for the mountains to fall on us to shield us from the presence of the Lord.