For a bishop must be… not greedy for money. (Titus 1:7)
Paul listed several qualities that Titus should look for as he appointed leaders in the many young churches on the island of Crete. Here at the end of verse 7, another quality is mentioned. A leader among God’s people must not be greedy for money.
Greed has been the downfall of many Christian leaders. Pastors and other leaders are often warned against the dangers of sexual immorality, pride, and greed. Those three go together for a good reason, and we should never forget the trap of being greedy for money.
It’s not only church leaders who must avoid greed. In 1 Timothy 6:9-10, Paul also wrote this: But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
Paul gave a great warning. Significantly, in 1 Timothy 6:9 Paul warned against the “desire to be rich.” That desire for riches is far more dangerous than the riches themselves – and it isn’t only the poor who desire to be rich, it is also the rich who are greedy for more riches.
It’s good to remember that in the Bible, poor does not mean godly and rich means ungodly; nor is it true the other way around. There were many remarkably godly men in the Bible who were almost unbelievably rich, such as Abraham, David, and Solomon.
But the godly rich have the heart like the Psalmist in Psalm 62:10: “If riches increase, do not set your heart on them.”
Those who run after greed are like what Paul wrote about in 1 Timothy 6:9 – they “fall into temptation and a snare.” This desire for riches tempts our heart away from eternal riches and ensnares us in a trap few can escape – always dreaming of riches, and always setting one’s heart on them.
At the end of it all, the desire to be rich can really only be satisfied in Jesus Christ and fulfilled with spiritual riches rather than material ones. Everything else falls short.
Notice one other warning Paul gave in 1 Timothy 6:10. He wrote “some have strayed from the faith in their greediness.” It’s sad to think about but it is true – there are some people who forsake the faith because of their greed. As Paul wrote, they pierce themselves with many sorrows because that is the fate of those who live for the love of money. They are not satisfied. We sometimes want the opportunity to find out if riches can satisfy, but we should trust the Word of God and the experience of many others.
Instead of being greedy for money it would be better for us to be “greedy” in a good sense for godliness and God’s kingdom. God helping us, that is what we will be in Jesus Christ, and those are the kind of leaders we will look for in God’s family.