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Bible verses about Greed
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Exodus 20:15

The eighth commandment of God's law—"You shall not steal"—reflects our sense of responsibility toward others and their possessions. It exposes whether we understand the motivating principle and purpose of the entire law of God, the principle of give rather than get (Acts 20:35). This commandment, found in Exodus 20:15 and Deuteronomy 5:19, is interwoven with the other commandments. Breaking it usually begins with covetousness. Such greed can lead to physical or mental violence and murder. It often involves fraud, deceit, and lying. Stealing to acquire the objects of our worship is spiritual adultery and idolatry against God. Succumbing to Satan's "get" way of life dishonors our spiritual Father and elevates the self above God. Would we consider stealing if we truly and deeply respected God's power and office?

Martin G. Collins
The Eighth Commandment


 

Exodus 22:1-4

The penalty for thievery to avert hunger was not as severe as stealing motivated by greed. Nevertheless, any kind of stealing is shameful (Jeremiah 2:26). We should ask God to provide for our needs so that we will not be tempted to steal to survive (Proverbs 30:7-9).

Martin G. Collins
The Eighth Commandment


 

Numbers 22:7-14

The princes come to Balaam and tell him what Balak has asked. Then, when Balaam goes to God, he leaves out some of what the princes said. After God gives His answer, Balaam reports back to the princes, this time leaving out some of what God said. Finally, when the men return to Balak, all they say is, "He is not coming."

So, we can see a great deal of deception going on, in which each party tries to slant the conversations to its advantage. The princes certainly do not want Balak angry at them because they failed in their mission, and Balaam did not want to tell the princes all that God had said to him because he wants them to come back with more money.

We cannot take this story at face value. This is what Balaam did for a living; this is how he made his money. He was a sorcerer for hire—for pay—and he is negotiating here. We have just read a sorcerer's negotiation for his hire.

The first thing Balaam did wrong (from our perspective) he did immediately: The princes waltz into his courtyard, saying, "Balak wants you to come and curse Israel for him." Balaam replies, "Oh. Let me think about that. In the meantime, why don't you stay the night? Here, I'll put you up and feed you." He probably entertained them—perhaps he performed parlor tricks for them. But, in such a situation, what should a Christian have done? What should just a good person have done? He should have said, "Go back to your master!" and not even listened to them.

The apostle John tells us what to do should anyone come to our house and wants us to do evil, to go against the Lord God:

If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds. (II John 10-11)

Immediately, then, Balaam becomes complicit in the sins of Balak. He should have said, "No. I'm taking my shingle down. I will not curse Israel." But instead he says, "Why don't you stay the night? I'll see if God gives me guidance in this matter."

It is probable that he did not expect God to say a word to him. His words were merely a ploy to get the princes interested and drag the negotiation out. He was putting on his diviner's hat and doing a little acting here. "Oh, I can't make this decision on my own! I must consult the gods. Stay here overnight, and in the morning I will tell you if God has come to me in a dream or a vision to tell me what I can do!"

He was playing the charlatan with them because most of the time, a demon did not come to him and say, "Okay, go ahead and do this," or "Don't do that." Balaam probably manufactured most of his "visitations." However, if a demon did communicate with him and was behind his sorcery, it makes Balaam even more evil. At the very least, he was giving the princes his pitch.

God surprises him by actually answering him! He starts off by asking him, "Who are these men with you?" making the man explain himself, which Balaam does. Then, incredibly, Balaam makes his pitch to God! "God, let me curse them!" God responds emphatically, "No! No! No! You shall not go with them. You shall not curse them. I have blessed them."

In the morning, Balaam tells Balak's princes, "Go back to your land. The Lord refused to give me permission."

We can give Balaam credit for this: He actually does what God told him and sent them away with their diviner's fee in their hands. He made no money. However, we can read into this that he did it, not because of the fear of God, but because of the thought that, "Hey, maybe this will help the negotiations if I send them away, because they might come back, and bring a bigger bag of gold with them to try and convince me. If I play hard to get, and they really want me, I could make a killing."

We need to remember that all the authors who mention Balaam after this write about him being greedy for profit at Israel's expense. We must include this fact in our understanding of what was happening here. God obviously inspired it to be written several times in His Word that this was how Balaam worked. He was avariciously negotiating a higher fee.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Balaam and the End-Time Church (Part 1)


 

Judges 16:4-5

Apart from Israel, the biblical record relates the story of one woman, Delilah, who exemplifies the harlot, helping us to zero in on what drives most prostitutes. Only two verses, Judges 16:4-5, are needed to isolate her reason for living as she did:

Now afterward it happened that [Samson] loved a woman in the Valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah. And the lords of the Philistines came up to her and said to her, "Entice him, and find out where his great strength lies, and by what means we may overpower him, that we may bind him to afflict him; and every one of us will give you eleven hundred pieces of silver."

What motivates Delilah's harlotry, and what does it teach us from God's perspective? Harlotry has its base in lust, deceit, and treachery, entered into, executed, or performed for what the perpetrator believes is an immediate gain. Not every case of harlotry follows Delilah's exact pattern, but the motivations center on sinning for personal gain, an element that never seems to change.

Delilah illustrates a greedy, smooth-talking temptress. Biblically, she becomes a metaphorical image for the Israelites, who reject God's provision for her as Husband to seek personal, "more satisfying" gain by other means. The driving forces are unbelief and distrust combined with self-indulgence primarily expressed through greed.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Beast and Babylon (Part Nine): Babylon the Great


 

2 Kings 4:27-31

As the Shunammite woman clutches Elisha's feet, a posture of abject humility, grief, and supplication, Gehazi attempts to push her away from the prophet. Elisha sternly rebukes him for not noticing her distress and accommodating her in her sorrow (verse 27). The servant is not perceptive enough to see her heartfelt anguish—all he sees is another demanding supplicant to be dealt with, to be put in her rightful place before the great prophet.

Who is this Gehazi? The Bible describes him consistently and solely as Elisha's servant, shedding very little light on his background or position. In his All the Men of the Bible, Herbert Lockyer speculates that he "likely stood in the same relationship to Elisha as Elisha had done to Elijah" (p. 124). This would make him the prophet's probable successor as well as his assistant. If this is so, it makes him, as the type of a false minister, that much more significant and sinister.

Scripture records very little that is good about Gehazi. He heeds Elisha's commands well enough, but the sense of his basic unbelief and impure motives that hovers between the lines is real. He appears in three scenes, and only in one of them does he do anything of even moderate merit (II Kings 8:1-6). The second scene in II Kings 5:20-27 exposes his greed for money and the power it brings, and God through Elisha curses him and his descendants with leprosy, a hideous form of excommunication.

The third scene appears here in II Kings 4, bringing out his inconsiderate attitude and spiritual impotence. It shows him living intimately with the righteous example of Elisha but never instilling it into his own character. He is a servant who never learns how to care for those he serves. He is a man with great potential for growth in God's way and service who instead seeks material wealth and position in society. In the end he receives the "reward" of a false minister.

Gehazi's spiritual inadequacy comes out when Elisha sends him ahead to try to heal the dead child (verses 29-31). The text does not mention him praying for the child's healing, and even using the prophet's staff does him no good. The terse narrative suggests that, once Gehazi sees no change in the boy's condition, he says, "Oh, well!" and reports his unsuccessful attempt to Elisha and the grieving mother. "Try, try again" is not in his spiritual vocabulary (see Luke 18:1-8)!

This should give us some general clues about false ministers, tares among the wheat in God's service. Many are avaricious; they see "serving" God's people as a means to a profitable end. Many are inconsiderate; their "ministry" is more about them and their desires than the true needs of the flock. Many are spiritually weak, "having a form of godliness but denying its power" (II Timothy 3:5); they merely go through the motions of godly works. The apostles Peter and Jude expound on other elements of false ministers in their books (II Peter 2; Jude 5-19).

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Elisha and the Shunammite Woman, Part II: Serving God's Children


 

Proverbs 7:10-21

Proverbs 7:10-21 details some of a harlot's characteristics. A careful study would find that she is described as deviously sly and cunning in that she feigns love, knowing how to pull a man's strings. Her "love" is strictly business—it is nothing but window dressing. Part of her eye-appealing attraction is her purposeful seduction and immodest dress, arousing lust. She is described as "loud," which might be better rendered as turbulent, flighty, confused, inconstant, and unstable. She lacks dignity and gravity, and she is stubborn, defiant, brazen, deliberately obstinate, and headstrong. Further, she is aggressive, impudent, contemptuous, presumptuous, and disrespectful.

Apart from Israel, the biblical record relates the story of one woman, Delilah, who exemplifies the harlot, helping us to zero in on what drives most prostitutes. Only two verses, Judges 16:4-5, are needed to isolate her reason for living as she did:

Now afterward it happened that [Samson] loved a woman in the Valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah. And the lords of the Philistines came up to her and said to her, "Entice him, and find out where his great strength lies, and by what means we may overpower him, that we may bind him to afflict him; and every one of us will give you eleven hundred pieces of silver."

What motivates Delilah's harlotry, and what does it teach us from God's perspective? Harlotry has its base in lust, deceit, and treachery, entered into, executed, or performed for what the perpetrator believes is an immediate gain. Not every case of harlotry follows Delilah's exact pattern, but the motivations center on sinning for personal gain, an element that never seems to change.

Delilah illustrates a greedy, smooth-talking temptress. Biblically, she becomes a metaphorical image for the Israelites, who reject God's provision for her as Husband to seek personal, "more satisfying" gain by other means. The driving forces are unbelief and distrust combined with self-indulgence primarily expressed through greed.

The term "greed" may sound harsh, considering the circumstances some women get themselves into before choosing to prostitute themselves. However, we have to learn that nobody has to sin—but something motivates us to do so. Greed is "expressing excessive desire, especially for food, drink, or wealth." We give ourselves and others an almost endless stream of justifications for sinning, but the bottom line is that we are simply unwilling to pay the price to discipline ourselves to do what is right. In our impatience, we convince ourselves that righteousness will not get us anything.

Recall the Great Harlot's boast in Revelation 18:7: "I sit as queen, and am no widow, and will not see sorrow." This is the statement of one who would compromise rather than suffer the loss of what she felt is her due. Greed is a synonym for lust or covetousness. However, it is especially applicable here because of Israel's well-known desire for wealth and comfort.

Notice how clearly Hosea expresses this:

For their mother has played the harlot; she who conceived them has behaved shamefully. . . . She will chase her lovers, but not overtake them; yes, she will seek them, but not find them. Then she will say, "I will go and return to my first husband, for then it was better for me than now." For she did not know that I gave her grain, new wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold—which they prepared for Baal. (Hosea 2:5, 7-8)

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Beast and Babylon (Part Nine): Babylon the Great


 

Proverbs 30:15-16

Each of these illustrates what greed does to the life of a person suffering from impossible-to-be-fulfilled desires. The ache and the yearning never cease, and the restless pursuit goes on, resulting in unhappiness.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Tenth Commandment (1998)


 

Isaiah 14:12-15

Isaiah 14:12-15 illustrates the process of Satan's thinking that led to his fall. Evidently, God had at some point also given him the earth to govern, as this passage shows him ascending to heaven, implying that he must have come from the earth. Isaiah also writes that he had a throne that he desired to exalt over all the “stars”—angels—of God. Revelation 12:4 reveals that a third of the angels were thrown to the earth with him, probably those whom God had earlier given him to assist him with his job on the earth, but Isaiah 14:13 reports that he wanted to rule all the angels, not just a mere third of them.

As God gave him more, Hêlēl's greed grew until he began to conceive thoughts of taking everything for himself, not just the angels, but God's very throne. As several modern translations read, “I will make myself like the Most High.” In essence, he wanted to be God. He deceived himself into thinking he was smart and powerful enough to boot the “Old Man” out and take over ruling all things!

So we see the sins that most describe Satan: vanity, greed, selfishness, self-exaltation, and pride, of course. Who knows how long these sins festered in him before they broke out into action? However long the time, these sins embittered him until he began to plan a coup against the very throne of heaven and to recruit other angels to his cause.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The Binding of Satan


 

Isaiah 47:8-9

Self-indulgence promotes, among other things, attitudes of fanaticism, false security, presumption, and fun-seeking. Fanaticism is unbridled obsession, and though most do not recognize it as form of self-indulgence, it is a gratification of selfish desire. The apostle Paul says that we should avoid those who are driven by lust and greed and have no self-control.

Martin G. Collins
Overcoming (Part 8): Self-Indulgence


 

Amos 2:6-7

Taking advantage of the poor and powerless appears in many forms in modern America. Powerful and wealthy families, corporations, lobbying groups, and governments hold tremendous sway over—and often outrightly control—the government of the United States. The members of the government, to please their various monied constituents, draft and enact legislation and directives that have funneled the wealth, opportunities, and resources into fewer and fewer hands.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Panting After the Dust


 

Acts 20:29

He calls these future apostates, these future false teachers, "savage wolves." Jude later calls them "brute beasts" (Jude 1:20). This conjures in our minds the idea that man's animalistic nature—what one could call the physical side of man's nature, what he shares with the beasts—is driving these false teachers. It is not necessarily their minds and their ideas that are driving them but their bodies, their desires, their lusts, and they want these lusts satiated in some way. It is not just eating, drinking, sex, and similar carnal needs, but also the base desires that men have for gain, for standing atop the pack, for glory and prestige. These false teachers are letting their "animal nature" get the best of them.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Jude


 

2 Timothy 3:1

Notice how many of these characteristics are traits of the mercenary. Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary Tenth Edition defines mercenary as "serving merely for pay or sordid advantage: venal; also: greedy." Synonyms for the noun form of the word include "hireling," "hired hand," and "hired gun." Adjectival synonyms are "bribable," "corruptible," "purchasable," "venal," "greedy," "avaricious," "voracious," "rapacious," "grasping," "covetous," and "money-hungry."

One of these traits of people in the last days, "unforgiving," is particularly appropriate. The margin of the New King James Version reads "irreconcilable," but the Greek word, aspondoi, literally means "without a treaty or covenant." It means they function as though they have no contract! They have no loyalty to a team, a political ideal, a company, or anything! If they have no loyalties, how can they be reconciled to anyone?

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
America's Mercenary Culture


 

James 4:1-3

This world is filled with wars of every size and magnitude, declared and undeclared. The strong attack the weak, and oppressed minorities fight to throw off the yoke of tyranny. Labor and management throw verbal bombs at each other. Husbands and wives do not divorce because they have peaceful, productive marriages! Increasingly, parents and children seem to look upon each other with scorn and sometimes break into open anger and fighting.

James shows ever so clearly that the root of these problems is lust, merely one expression of human nature. Human nature expresses itself in vanity, jealousy, lust, greed, murder, hatred, avarice, competition, lying, stealing, dishonoring parent, fornication, adultery, and - the most damaging of all - idolatry. In fact, we could say that all the above flow from idolatry!

John W. Ritenbaugh
Preparing to Rule!


 

Jude 1:11

The apostle provides the examples of Cain, Balaam, and Korah as illustrative of apostates. All of them were rebellious and anti-God at the core but in different ways.

Cain's sin manifested itself in a sullen, selfish hatred that ended up in murder. Balaam's sin was manifested in the form of covetousness and greed, which he used to induce others to sin. (Recall that Jesus says in Matthew 5:19 that whoever teaches against God's law will be least in the Kingdom. These men may not even be there at all. Balaam certainly taught others to sin.)

Korah's sin manifested itself in speaking against the God-appointed authority and attracting a following to wrest away an office that was not his. He is forever an example of that, reaching above his station, as it were. We do not hear much about rising above one's station in these democratic days, but the church is not a democratic society. The church is God's Family, and He places people in His body as it pleases Him (I Corinthians 12:18). Korah had been placed in Israel in a certain spot, and he tried to go above his station, persuading others to do the same and support him in his coup—and he ended up as a black spot in the wilderness of Sinai along with many of his supporters.

Jude, then, is not only showing sin, but also God's judgment and severe punishments for sin.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Jude


 

Revelation 18:11-13

The merchants, who gained wealth and perverse pleasures from this world's system of religion and commerce, cry and lament because it satiated their greed for materialistic acquisition and their lust for self-pleasure. As the Babylonian system incorporates every expression of corrupt government, so its prostitution includes every corrupt economic system and idolatry. Even human beings are reduced to cargo, traded as slaves to drive the engines of production, prosperity, and sinful pleasures.

Sadly, the modern descendants of Israel have promoted and become part of this self-serving, perverse world system. Sin inevitably brings its own punishment, and there are always consequences to disobedience. Thus, when today's Israelites go into captivity in the last days, they will have no excuse for their sin and no freedom whatsoever.

Martin G. Collins
Slavery and Babylon


 

Find more Bible verses about Greed:
Greed {Nave's}
 




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