When someone is placing portions of food on your plate, they may ask you to “Say when” to indicate when to stop. If you are greedy or wasteful, you may take your time to say it. When God sent manna from heaven as food for the Israelites, He wanted them to “gather enough for that day” (Exodus 16:4). People gathered different amounts but their daily portions were just what they needed (Exodus 16:18). Food kept for the next day became rotten (Exodus 16:20) and those who went out to gather food on the Sabbath found none, having already gathered twice as much the previous day (Exodus 16:22,27).
The lessons learned in the desert are easily forgotten in the marketplace. Paul describes “people who want to get rich” (v.9). They faced many dangers to their souls. They were not contented with what they already had (which was more than enough) but wanted more and more. What drove them was “the love of money” (v.10), which is the “root of all kinds of evil”. Money itself is not the problem, for many devout Christians have used their wealth for the work of God and to help the poor (Luke 8:3; Acts 4:36– 37, 16:14–15). The problem is greed— wanting and keeping more than we need in a way that erodes our souls. Money can be a potent instrument to be used for the good of others, but it can also overpower us and become our master. It can become our god.
Jesus warned about the foolishness of trying to serve both God and money (Matthew 6:24). Many of the false teachers in Ephesus were, in fact, serving money through their greedy schemes (v.5). The true servant of God must be marked by contentment rather than greed. It is enough to be godly and contented (vv.6–8). The greedy invite temptation (“foolish and harmful desires”) and can be entrapped in a process that ends in “ruin and destruction” (v.9). They can lose their faith and hurt themselves terribly (v.10). It is best to guard our hearts against greed by steadying our lives with simple gratitude for what we have received from God, and by trusting in Him continually.
What forms of greed are promoted and encouraged in the modern marketplace? How do Christians fare amid such temptations? How much do you really need in order to live a contented life?
How can the love of money make people wander from the faith? What should the church teach Christians about greed, the love of money, and Christian contentment?