In the 1987 film Wall Street, Gordon Gekko proclaims the teaching that greed is good.
In the last seven deals that I've been involved with, there were 2.5 million stockholders who have made a pretax profit of 12 billion dollars. Thank you.
I am not a destroyer of companies. I am a liberator of them!
The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed -- for lack of a better word -- is good.
Greed is right.
Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit.
Greed, in all of its forms -- greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge -- has marked the upward surge of mankind.
And greed -- you mark my words -- will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the USA.
Thank you very much.
The Greek word used for greed in the Bible is "pleonexia." It means a "greedy desire to have more, covetousness." Also, the word "pleonektes" means "one eager to have more, especially what belongs to others."
"For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting (pleonexia), wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness" (Mark 7:21-22 ESV).
"And he said to them, 'Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness (pleonexia), for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions'” (Luke 12:15 ESV).
"And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness (pleonexia), malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them" (Romans 1:28-32 ESV).
"I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy (pleonektes) and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed (pleonektes), or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you” 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 (ESV).
"Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy (pleonektes), nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God" (1 Corinthians 6:9-11 ESV).
"So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to go on ahead to you and arrange in advance for the gift you have promised, so that it may be ready as a willing gift, not as an exaction (pleonexia)" (2 Cor 9:5 ESV).
"But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness (pleonexia) must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (pleonektes) ( that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light" (Eph 5:3-8 ESV).
"Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness (pleonexia), which is idolatry" (Colossians 3:5 ESV).
"For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed (pleonexia)— God is witness" (1 Thessalonians 2:5 ESV).
"But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed (pleonexia) they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep."
"For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority" (2 Peter 2:1-10 ESV)
Greed is a dismantler of relationships and society. If we cannot trust that our neighbor will not exploit us in our ignorance of a product or industry...if we cannot trust our employer to pay us a fair wage for our labor...or if we cannot trust our merchandise that we consume to not have been manufactured by a company slavishly employing strangers (immigrants and foreigners), then the very fabric of trust has been dismantled. No longer can we work together for the good of all; we must watch out for ourselves vigilantly. We have moved from a world of cooperation to a dog eat dog world.
When cynicism wins, we say that a dog eat dog world is all we can expect. Everyone is just looking out for themselves, so should we. Then greed becomes a necessary evil. However, Scripture does not allow greed to be an inevitable core of our social systems. It states that the greedy will face judgment. Paul even goes so far as to write that brothers and sisters in Jesus should not allow the greedy to be among them.
Now if greed means a "desire to have more, covetousness" and eagerness "to have more, especially what belongs to others," I do not know what how we could describe the richest 1%--or an even larger percent--as anything but greedy.
A recent article, How Unequal We Are: The Top 5 Facts You Should Know About The Wealthiest One Percent Of Americans, listed five alarming facts.
1. The Top 1 Percent Of Americans Owns 40 Percent Of The Nation’s Wealth.In our desire to be polite, we don't call sin, sin, except in the case of those few pet sins that we feel are appropriate to bash and attack. We are quick to stand up for the life of the unborn, the sanctity of marriage, yet we aren't willing to stand up against a sin nearly as devastating to society as the former and much more devastating than the latter.
2. The Top 1 Percent Of Americans Take Home 24 Percent Of National Income.
3. The Top 1 Percent Of Americans Own Half Of The Country’s Stocks, Bonds, And Mutual Funds.
4. The Top 1 Percent Of Americans Have Only 5 Percent Of The Nation’s Personal Debt.
5. The Top 1 Percent Are Taking In More Of The Nation’s Income Than At Any Other Time Since The 1920s.
Greed is not something to be celebrated. And a just society would not have allowed it to reach the extremes that it has here in America.
Brothers and sisters in Jesus, do not fall prey to the siren call of society trying to teach us that greed is good. Greed is a great evil. Always remember that. Greed needs to stop.