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Don’t cultivate greed

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By Bob Mueller

The seeds of greed are present in every human heart.  In some, these seeds subtly take root and gradually begin to influence our decisions, preventing us from achieving what we value most.

In others, they grow into giant weeds that choke the joy out of life. Greed is a deep longing for something that drives us to the point where we are willing to do whatever it takes to acquire it.

A person can be greedy in just about any imaginable area: the pursuit of power or recognition, the pursuit of love, the pursuit of sexual fulfillment, the pursuit of leisure or a hobby. But in our society, the most visible form of greed is the pursuit of wealth.

All of us see things that others have and feel a momentary desire to have them, too. That’s perfectly natural.
Coveting, on the other hand, is a strong and persistent desire or craving for something you don’t have. Acquiring it, ultimately, becomes a priority – deferring or replacing more important priorities.

If you are greedy, instead of being grateful for what you have, your focus keeps shifting to what you don’t have. You find that you have lots of desires but little lasting contentment or joy. Whatever you’re chasing after, you can’t get it fast enough.

Rather than patiently pursuing what you want and working to earn it, you find yourself looking for shortcuts to obtain it faster.  Today people take on extraordinary credit- card debt because they want so much before they can legitimately afford it.

Greed has overtaken you if you find yourself considering the idea of compromising your values or integrity to achieve what you want quickly rather than working toward it. When you do compromising your values, it is too late.

The good news: Once you’re aware of your tendency toward greed, you can hit the brakes and reverse course.

If you find yourself experiencing more conflict, more adversity and more problems in general in your life, think about your focus.  When our focus continually shifts to what we don’t have, we create turbulence in our lives and the lives of those around us.

There’s nothing wrong about wanting to achieve success. The key is keeping your efforts to succeed in the right perspective.

Be on the alert for warning signs of greed. Seek the counsel of others who care about you and your family to keep greed from gaining a foothold in your heart and in your life.

Here are some healthy guidelines for acquiring success and wealth:

  • Focus on achievement rather than money;
  • Use your labor to achieve financial success, rather than chasing wealth in other pursuits;
  • Don’t try to get rich.

How can we remove greed once we’ve been affected by it?

First, focus on giving generously to others in need.

Second, stop chasing riches.

We think that we can control a little greed in our lives, but we can’t. We can’t take the “greed” out of greed. Let it gain a little foothold in our lives, and it will ultimately steal your life – either figuratively or literally.

Bob Mueller is senior director of mission & stewardship at Hosparus. The views in this column are those of the writer.