It is easy to slip into greed. Living in a consumer society, temptation is ever before us. What you want becomes what you think about. It then becomes what you obsess about. From there, it is a small step to do anything to get it. A certain author highlights this human trait. A town was turned upside down in the desire for “needful things.” The apostle Paul wrote, “Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved” (1 Cor. 10:6).
Achan was probably an average person—not someone who made people think, “Oh, there goes old greedy Gus.” Yet, the Bible tells us he disobeyed direct orders not to take anything among the spoils of the destroyed city of Jericho (Josh. 7:1). After that, the conquering of Ai was foiled and Achan’s sins came to light. Many died, including Achan and his family, because of his greed. Ahab really wanted Naboth’s vineyard. When he was denied its sale, he pouted and his wicked queen killed the owner and took it (1 Kgs. 21:1-24). Elijah handed down God’s judgment. Ahab’s blood would be licked up by dogs and Jezebel, the queen, would be eaten by dogs. Greed was the motivation for murder and theft, which was their undoing.
In the New Testament, Luke writes about the rich young ruler. He asked the question, “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 18:18). Jesus gave him an answer to which the young ruler said that he was practicing those things. Jesus replied, “One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me” (Luke 18:22). The Bible tells us that he went away sorrowful because he had many possessions. He missed out on something so much bigger because of greed.
Before we scoff at him, how many times have we done the same? How many times have we allowed stuff to get in the way of the eternal and spiritual? “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also… No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth” (Matt. 6:19-21, 24).
Is it possible that we are striving to serve two masters? Who are we trying to please? It is easy to get drawn into a state like those Paul mentions, “whose god is their appetite” (Phil. 3:19). Needful things are not always spiritual things.