Greed, That’s Mine Not Yours

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Greed… When it really belongs to someone else, the mine not yours is an entitlement mentality. And that’s what’s inherently wrong.


How is it when someone works hard, makes good decisions, and is prudent with their gains others feel entitled to a share of their good fortune? This is seen in companies or individual people who succeed in business; families and inheritance; and students who put forth the effort in their school work and overlooked because of an inherited trait. Would the entitled person feel the same it their table was turned?

Entitlement is a hot topic in our culture and it is a cause for divide. We see it when people accumulate wealth and others want a piece of their hard earned savings. In the work place, some employees bust their ass to prove themselves while others ride on their coattails. And when grown children attach themselves on their parents savings. Even the government gets in on the action, they too feel entitled to what doesn’t belong to them.

Entitlement is a greedy concept. It’s the opposite of being philanthropic. When people are forced to give part of their income, they can become resentful. But when we choose to donate part of our salary then we can feel generous. Maybe we need to change the way we think about wealth distribution.

Wikipedia states greed is an insatiable desire for material gain (be it food, money, land, or animate/inanimate possessions); or social value, such as status or power. Further it states greed intends to create an inequity of access or distribution to community wealth. In secular psychological concept greed is an inordinate desire to acquire or possess more than one needs.

Reading about greed makes me angry. Wikipedia makes people who succeed out to be greedy. When those who do succeed are sometimes the most giving human beings. Who determines at what level greed kicks in for material gain? Doesn’t everyone have access to the same wealth? And, what is the deciding factor of when we meet our personal needs?

These are not easy questions and have no clear answers. Raising children to become men and women in today’s society it is of utmost importance to teach them to be financially independent. There are a couple practices my husband and I put into place when raising our daughters; imposing a work ethic and being mindful of their spending. And we constantly remind them that life isn’t fair! I am hopeful my daughters will meet men with the same values. The key for them, as able body humans, is to maintain their independence, not being reliant on anyone else.

When my grandmothers passed they did not deplete their savings and left an inheritance to my parents. Out of the kindness of their hearts they also left a token for each grandchild. There intention was to keep their earned income in the family and that was a generous gesture.

Both my parents and I had a solid middle class upbringing. My parents instilled the same values in me and my siblings as my grandparents taught them. My grandparents lived through the depression, learned how to conserve and do without. Their Protestant faith also played a role in their financial planning. Protestant work ethic emphasizes that diligence, discipline, and frugality are a result of a person’s subscription to the values espoused by the Protestant faith.

After my father passed, the money was funneled down to my mother. My mother is in her eighties and not able to care for herself. She lives in a retirement facility who now cares for her. She bought into this arrangement, which offers her security for long-term care. Recently, she depleted her assets and now Medicare supplements her living expenses.

Our family is going through some exciting, but challenging times at the moment. And somehow greed has crept its way into what is meant to be a celebration. My father-in-law, a widower for six months, will be remarrying. This news is hard to digest for my husband. Not only is his mother being replaced, but his inheritance is threatened.

This prompted a much needed and uncomfortable conversation between him and his father. Communication is key with the intention to seek understanding. My father-in-law doesn’t owe us anything. We have no entitlement to his life savings. It is for him to decide how to spend his earned income. These truths are not difficult to understand, but the thought of my husband’s inheritance extending down another family’s lineage is unsettling to me.

A greedy man stirs up strife, but the one who trusts in the Lord will be enriched.

Proverbs 28:25 ESV

We have accepted that his father’s amassed possessions are none of our business. I am at peace knowing my husband voiced his concerns and his father listened. We are not dependent on his father’s choices. We have decided to focus on his happiness. My husband stated if his new bride makes him happy he is confident she will be good for his health. We simply have to prioritize what is important in life. You can’t put a dollar value on relationships and companionship.

We need to stop penalizing people for accumulating their own wealth. Hard work and financial planning isn’t a sin. The sin is when we covet over something that isn’t ours in the first place. Or when we selfishly choose not to help others in need. For those who choose to be charitable they will be rewarded. Learning to be content helps with the artificial need for more material wealth which is greed.

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