Then he said, “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.” (NLT)
In a film not long ago, a wealthy stock trader declared to his audience that greed is good. Much longer ago, the Russian author Tolstoy told a story that said the opposite. The title was “How Much Land Does a Man Need?” It tells of a peasant who was greedy to own as much land as possible. The owners of nearby land offered the peasant all the land he could walk around in one day. But he had to be back at his starting point by sunset.
And so the peasant strode around the land, trying to embrace as much land as possible and marking it with his spade. Late in the day, he realised how far he was from home. In trying to get as much land as possible, he had overreached. So he ran frantically for the starting point at his home so as to get the land he desired.
But he collapsed and died right there as a result of his exertions. His servant dug a grave for him and buried him in it. The six foot grave was, in the end, all the land that the man needed.
There is no great harm in having material wealth or in having material ambitions. However we need to know when enough is enough. We need to cultivate a grateful contentment. We need to heed Jesus’ words about our life not being measured by possessions no matter how good or pleasant they may be.
A restless greed for more may be the result of us seeking something outside ourselves that can only be found inside ourselves. In the words of St. Augustine, you have made us for yourself O Lord, and our hearts are restless till they rest in you.