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The Stupidity of Cupidity

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Cupidity is acquisitiveness, avarice, covetousness, or simply greed. We need money to buy necessities, but the question is, “Just how much money is enough?”

We need food, clothing, and shelter to sustain life. There are other “necessities” in this modern age: transportation, communication, education, health care, etc. We also have wants that enhance our well-being. We can enjoy material things in a balanced way.

We want to provide for our family, so it is wise to save for retirement and the proverbial “rainy day” when unexpected things happen. The wise save money for that purpose.

But how much money is enough? The super wealthy amass multi-millions and even billions of dollars, euros, or other currencies. A Bloomberg article titled “How Much Money Do You Need to Be Wealthy in America?” shares the survey results of Americans for the second annual Modern Wealth Index from Charles Schwab. The amount of money thought to be needed to be considered “comfortable” starts at $1.4 million, and “wealthy” starts at $2.4 million.

But the super wealthy have hoarded incredible sums of money. They seem fixated on amassing wealth. Another Bloomberg article titled “France’s Richest Are Making Money Faster Than Everyone Else This Year” demonstrates that the super wealthy continue to amass more and more. See also the Wall Street Journal’s “The Rich Get Richer as Billionaires Increase in Number” and Forbes: “a record 2,208 billionaires from 72 countries and territories including the first ever from Hungary and Zimbabwe.”

There is a significant difference between accumulating enough wealth to take care of basic needs and a fixation on accumulating money. The former, if balanced, is positive, but the latter is unbalanced and may have negative consequences. One may never be satisfied and even neglect family by spending all available time pursuing wealth. They often financially harm others as a direct outcome of their targeted actions. Greed can change a person; it can warp the personality, lead to irrational behavior, rob the individual of satisfaction and happiness, and may lead to antisocial (narcissistic) personality disorder. Cupidity (greed) really is stupidity!

The Creator provides instruction on the right approach to wealth and warns against selfishly seeking to be rich.

  • “The sleep of a laboring man is sweet, whether he eats little or much; but the abundance of the rich will not permit him to sleep” (Ecclesiastes 5:12).
  • “He who oppresses the poor to increase his riches, and he who gives to the rich, will surely come to poverty” (Proverbs 22:16).
  • “He who trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like foliage” (Proverbs 11:28).
  • “So are the ways of everyone who is greedy for gain; it takes away the life of its owners” (Proverbs 1:19).
  • “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own” (Luke 12:15, New Living Translation).
  • “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” (1 Timothy 6:10).

The stupidity of greed has also long been recognized by philosophers:

  • “He who is greedy is always in want.” — Horace
  • “Poverty wants much; but avarice, everything.” — Publilius Syrus
  • “For greed all nature is too little.” — Seneca
  • “There is no calamity greater than lavish desires. There is no greater guilt than discontent. And there is no greater disaster than greed.” — Lau Tzu
  • “It is preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else, that prevents us from living freely and nobly.” — Thoreau

Greed will keep a person out of the kingdom of God. “For this you know, that no…covetous man (“greedy” in the Common English Bible and other translations), who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God” (Ephesians 5:5).

For more on this subject, read the Tomorrow’s World articles “Greed!” and “Genuine Financial Security.”