I will be preaching through the Gospel of Luke and I was working my way through chapter 12. In 12:15 Jesus says, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed.” The term “greed” is πλεονεξία and it is an interesting noun. It is used 10 times in the NT and 8 times in the LXX. The ten uses in the NT are interesting.
Two uses are in the gospels (Luke 12:15; Mark 7:22) and they seem to have the sense of coveting something that one does not yet possess. The two uses by Peter are located closely together (2 Peter 2:3, 14) and they seem to speak of those whose overall nature is characterized by greed.
Two uses by Paul in Ephesians are also found in the same context (4:19; 5:3). The first use describes the pagan who is given over to sensuality that is driven by greed while the second use exhorts believers not to live like the unregenerate. The use in Romans 1:29 is similar to this. Paul’s use in 1 Thessalonians 2:5 uses the term to describe a hidden motive. Paul did not proclaim Christ in order to make a buck!
It is the last two uses of πλεονεξία that I find so very interesting. In 2 Corinthians 9:5 Paul uses the term in respect to financial giving towards gospel ministry. Paul says our giving should not be done “grudgingly” (NIV). Interesting, when our motives for giving are not pure, when we have a hard time parting with our cash, when it is given grudgingly, it is greed. We wish we could hold to what rightfully belongs to God!
The last use is even more interesting. Paul states in Colossians 3:5 that we are to consider ourselves dead to a host of vices, the last of which is greed. He then goes on to explain this greed more specifically by saying of greed, “which amounts to idolatry.” I wonder how often we see greed or covetousness as God sees it: as a form of idolotary. God wants us to desire him alone so when we don’t, when something else has our attention, we are not worshiping him, but it. Jesus is so right: “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed.”