If you go to your psychotherapist complaining of depression, anxiety, a sense of emptiness in your life, a collapsing marriage, uncontrollable children, headaches, and ulcers, one thing he probably won't say to you is: "Herb, you're greedy. You need to change your whole attitude about money, turn your mind to healthier objects. The therapy I would suggest, for starters, is that you give away something that is of great value to you, and that you volunteer for a couple of weeks at the Salvation Army soup kitchen."

Our culture is little inclined to see greed as a major source of human troubles. Rather, it is seen as what makes the world go 'round. It's not a vice but a virtue.

Still, we have the apostle's words, "The love of money is the root of all evils" (1 Tim. 6:10). As a form of idolatry (Col. 3:5), the love of "goods" cancels out faith in God, since no one can have two absolute masters (Luke 16:13). Greed can create the anxiety, depression, and loss of meaning that often comes in middle age after a "successful" life of acquiring the "goods" of this world. Greed tempts us to other forms of corruption, such as lying, swindling, cheating clients, and cheating the government.

The psalmist says the righteous will hold in contempt those who trust in abundant riches (Ps. 52:6-7). A camel slips more easily through the eye of a needle than a rich person into the kingdom (Luke 18:25). To a wealthy man who has kept the law but still seeks salvation, Jesus says he must give his riches to the poor and follow him (Luke 18:18-22). A rich man who builds bigger barns so that he can use his agricultural fortune to secure himself is called a fool (Luke 12:15-21).

James puts the point more strongly than any: "Come now, you rich people, weep ...

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