As the CEO sat across from me, he leaned in, “Greed is good. What Enron did was wrong. But greed, in itself, is not bad.”
I had to chew on that a moment. And process it. I could understand what he was trying to say. I think. The want for things is not bad. The motivation that it brings to some folks, to get them going. To achieve. To attain. Is not bad. It’s not a sin to want or to aspire. However, breaking the law? Hurting people in the process to get what you want? Not good. Not negotiable.
With 2008 behind us, the bail outs, the political corruption, I thought this thought from author and speaker Chuck Swindoll was a great comment for the New Year.
by Charles R. Swindoll
Philippians 4:11-12
Let’s take a brief look at greed. Practically speaking, greed is an inordinate desire for more, an excessive, unsatisfied hunger to possess. Like an untamed beast, greed grasps, claws, reaches, clutches, and clings—stubbornly refusing to surrender. The word enough is not in this beast’s vocabulary. Akin to envy and jealousy, greed is nevertheless distinct. Envy wants to have what someone else possesses. Jealousy wants to possess what it already has. But greed is different. Greed is forever discontented and therefore insatiably craving, longing, wanting, striving for more, more, more.
The Greeks had a curious word they used when referring to greed. The word means “a thirst for having more.” To illustrate, its probably fanciful yet fairly descriptive to think of a fellow who is thirsty taking a drink of salt water, which only makes him thirstier. His thirst causes him to drink even more, which ultimately results in making him terribly sick. And if he continues to drink he could die.
That’s the whole point of greed. You’ll want more and more of something that really isn’t good for you. And in the getting of it, you’ll suffer the painful consequences. That is why Jesus warns, in effect, “Beware. Be on your guard. This thing is like a cancer—an insatiable leech that will suck the life right out of you.” Enough will never be enough. Life does not—cannot—revolve around things if one hopes to achieve true excellence.
There’s nothing in the world wrong with making a nice living. Nor is there anything wrong with being eminently wealthy if you earn and handle it correctly. But there’s something drastically wrong when you keep it all to yourself! God gave it to you so you could, in turn, give it back to Him, to others—yes, in abundance. The only reason I can imagine for God’s allowing anyone to make more than one needs is to be able to give more. We certainly can’t take it with us, that’s for sure!
Adapted by permission. Dear Graduate: Letters of Wisdom from Charles R. Swindoll, Charles R. Swindoll, © 2007, Thomas Nelson, Inc., Nashville, Tennessee. All rights reserved. Copying or using this material without written permission from the publisher is strictly prohibited and in direct violation of copyright law.