Why Greed Is Idolatry

Ephesians 5:5 tells us that being a “greedy person … means being an idolater.” But why is that the case?

Consider the commandment regarding idolatry in Exodus and see why the command was given:

“You must not bow down to them nor be induced to serve them, because I Jehovah your God am a God exacting exclusive devotion.” – Exodus 20:5

‘Don’t serve them, serve only me.’ If you’re not worshipping Jehovah, as far as he’s concerned, you’re committing idolatry. Whatever takes the place of worshipping Jehovah becomes our idol.

Can greed for something take the place of worshipping Jehovah? Yes, of course it can. If we’re greedy for something, it has become the priority in our life and, therefore, Jehovah is not. Whatever takes the place of worshipping Jehovah becomes our idol.

The question now is: how can we tell if we are greedy? Greed is when a normal desire becomes insatiable and takes over our lives. In the context of idolatry, greed is when a normal desire or part of life takes priority over worshipping Jehovah.

So, is a normal desire or part of life beginning to take priority over worshipping Jehovah? We need to look for warning signs, chinks in our spiritual armour, the thin end of the wedge, as it were.

Let’s consider two areas: meetings and preaching. Perhaps we can ask ourselves how many meetings have we missed this year and why? Did I miss those meetings because I keep allowing a normal desire or part of life to encroach on worshipping Jehovah?

Do I prepare for every meeting? Or do I keep allowing a normal desire or part of life to steal that time away?

In April the average hours for publishers in the congregation was 7.7. Are we one of those who do less than that in the preaching work? I am, so I ask myself, is that because I keep allowing a normal desire or part of life to encroach on worshipping Jehovah?

If we are, is that the thin end of the wedge?

We can also look at things such as personal study, prayer, meditation, and personal conduct. We can analyse these to see if we are pushing Jehovah’s worship out of first place. Whatever takes the place of worshipping Jehovah becomes our idol.

Now, what would you say is the opposite of greed?

“So, having sustenance and covering, we shall be content with these things.” – 1 Timothy 6:8

What would you say is the opposite of greed?

“Let [YOUR] manner of life be free of the love of money, while YOU are content with the present things. For he has said: “I will by no means leave you nor by any means forsake you.” ” – Hebrews 13:5

What would you say is the opposite of greed? Contentment. If we’re content, it means that our normal desires are under control and so we are able to keep things in their proper place. If we are content, then we will put Jehovah’s worship first and gladly fit everything else around that.

So, greed is idolatry because whatever we are greedy for takes the place of worshipping Jehovah. We want to be content so that Jehovah can fulfil his promise to us that he ‘will by no means leave us or by any means forsake us.’

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