On Greed and Worry


And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’

“Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain.

And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’

“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

“This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”

Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.

Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?

“Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.

If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith!

And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them.

But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Luke 12:16-34

It seems to me the two greatest opponents of generosity in our lives are greed and worry.

Greed, we are quick to dismiss. It’s such a dirty word—even emanating from the back of our throat when we say it out loud. It’s even condemned by a worldly culture as unattractive and undesirable. Nobody wants to be known as “greedy.”

Of course, we usually are far more selfish than we like to admit. And this opponent of generosity in our lives is a greater adversary than we know.

In the Parable of the Rich Fool (Luke 12), Jesus condemns the wealthy farmer as a fool for using his excess income to build bigger barns for himself—in the hopes of making life easier.

The lifestyle choices of the rich fool are the same as most of us—at least here in America. We earn more money, so we buy a bigger house, build a larger bank account, or invest for a larger retirement account.

We may not rush out to tear down old barns and build bigger ones, but our intention is the same. We desire to build a larger kingdom, so life can become a bit easier. Our lives are too similar to the rich fool than most of us should feel comfortable with. Certainly more similar than any of us would ever admit.

But greed is not the only opponent of generosity in our lives. Worry produces the same effect.

Worry, however, is a much less maligned action in our world and hearts.

In some cases, it is even praised as wisdom.

Worry will also compel us to hold tightly to our things and it will result in building bigger barns. Not because we’re greedy, but because “you never know when you’re going to need the extra grain.”

And so we don’t grow our bank accounts because we’re “greedy,” we do it because we’re worried about the future. Same outcome (not being rich toward God), but a much more widely accepted intention for our soul to sleep at night.

It cannot be missed that Jesus immediately followed his teaching on the foolishness of greed (Luke 12:15-21) with a discourse on the danger of worry. Even directly tying together the two intentions.

“This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God. Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothes.”

God invites us to define our lives by generosity. Being rich toward Him counteracts the pull of greed on our hearts and supplies the only peace, rooted in absolute power and love, that can overcome worry in our lives.


Lord, teach me to be generous and rich towards you. Amen.