The Greed Effect: Positive and Negative Consequences

     Well recent news certainly has brought greed and it’s consequences to the forefront. Greed is part and partial to many events in the world today. Most people are looking for continually more.  American culture pushes the lust for for and feeds greed.  It is all around us. And when greed is rampant, eventually there comes a crash, it is inevitable because that which is driven by greed will eventually be exposed.

      There are already famous greed crashes. We have the original stock market crash in 1929 and the infamous black Monday in 1987. More recently,  there is the NASDAQ crash in 2000 and scandals like Enron in 2001.  Today, we have the crash of the real estate markets and the ripple effects going out to multiple financial institutions like Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, Washington Mutual, and AIG.  Today there are many signs of huge financial instability.  What got us to this point is at the core greed and the subsequent consequences.

     Now not all consequences of greed are bad. Greed can result in quality work being done, and work being done quickly to meet some reward. For example, in Minnesota the completion of the I-35 W bridge was done with a bonus for early completion. The hired company put out all stops to meet the significant bonus, and reached it.  The natural inclination of achieving for gain is a central component at times for facilitating behavioral change.  However, most change dependent on reinforcement only lasts as long as the gain is meaningful.  Also the effects of greed can result in a robust economy, as people always seek for the newer and better.  However, those positives are often short lived.

     As already mentioned, anything that is driven by greed will reach a limit.  Humans have limited capacity and as such, there is never unlimited growth.  When the limits of growth are reached, you will find what is happening today.  First of all areas of corruption and exploitation are exposed.  Then those dependent on the money derived from corruption and exploitation find that they did not stick to sound principles and essentially it all becomes a house of cards. So when falls happen the question always is how to get it restarted. In the past those driven by greed simply finding another area to seek the continual more in.  Eventually though, there is no place left for the greed seekers to go.

     We also see that when money gets easy, and the quest for more continues, that people readily take shortcuts.  Why work for to get more, if you can find a quick way to get it.  Many scams and con men gain much all related to people’s greed. 

    Make no mistake though, greed will be seen as a problem, and is seen as a problem globally. Being anti-greed is part of an underpinning to communism. It takes the truth that when people share it is benificial and twists it into some form of forced sharing that ultimately only benefitted the elite, who in turn displayed there greed.  There will come a time, perhaps soon, when folks will be pointed to global sharing as the answer.  There will be promotion of interdependence and global sharing. And while the concept sounds and looks good on the surface, it is not founded on the truth. Sharing doesn’t negate the selfishness at the root of greed.  It doesn’t address anything about the basic essence of humanity.  Sharing does have a benefit, but to focus on sharing without the foundation of the gospel and surrender of self to the messiah, it is faulty.  It is just taking the principle found in the prosperity gospel and extending it. If all share, all prosper will be what is promoted.  For example, the show Oprah’s big give whole concept was ultimate prosperity comes through sharing.

    So, how does one really combat greed.  It all has to start with the Gospel. It has to start with the answer of our selfishness and moving beyond our own self-interest and toward surrender to the King of Kings.  It involves accepting where God has us in life.  God’s word states in I Timothy 66-12(NIV):  6.But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7.For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8.But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9.People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.10.For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.11.But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.12.Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

   Contentment is clearly a biblical key to individual dealing with greed.  We all need to rest in being able to manage all things through the strength of Jesus, not our own strength as shown in Phillipians 4:12-13 (NIV):   12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.13: I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

    Now we are called to share and be generous (2 Corinthians 9) and doing so is contrary to the principles of greed. It is not a compulsion with true giving being a response tothe recognition of the gift of grace, not for ultimate gain. When we are truely generous, God is pleased, because true generosity is giving from beyond our self. We are each incapable of giving beyond our own selfishness without living in surrender to Jesus the Messiah. 

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