Did you know that there’s a thin line between gratefulness and greed?
The definition of grateful is “warmly or deeply appreciative of kindness or benefits received.”
I am grateful for food, shelter, and clothing. I am grateful for physical health and peace of mind. I am grateful for family and friends. I am grateful for employment. I am grateful for all these and many other things.
Yet, I still move with the speed of light. I can’t seem to sit still or in silence. I still seek more. I still desire more. I still strive for more. I still expect more.
That’s makes sense though. Right? The way I see it, wanting more moves me beyond complacency. It keeps me in a place of growth.
The issue though is knowing when enough is enough. Wait….is there such a thing as ‘enough?’ If there is, who decides my enough? Who decides your enough?
Each individual sees life through their own lens. If it were to be defined, enough would look different based on race, gender, socio-economic background, political affiliation, education level, and a host of other factors.
So that’s where the concept of greed comes in. What feels like gratefulness to some, looks like greed to others. Greed is defined as “excessive or rapacious desire, especially for wealth or possessions.”
Greed can appear to present itself when one is asking for more, seeking for more, wanting more. It’s an issue of perception. How society views the choices people make can sometimes paint the wrong picture.
- The individual having their third plate of food sometimes appears greedy for food. Perhaps she is simply thankful for a hot, delicious meal after hours of training for her sport.
- The individual with stable, fruitful employment consistently applying for higher paying job opportunities can appear greedy for money. What if he is simply seeking more income to financially support family members or to make more charitable contributions?
- The same individual may appear greedy for power if promotions are constantly being sought. Consider the possibility that she desires more knowledge or greater opportunity to provoke change.
There are fine distinctions in those examples. So much so that the impetus for wanting more cannot be seen by the naked eye. It’s an internal driver that is often uncommunicated. The problem is that perception (of others) becomes reality. Does that even matter though? Maybe, maybe not.
What does matter is that you have a personal gut check about what drives you. Think hard and long about the things that propel you into action. What do you want? Why do you want it? What is the ultimate goal? Even if no ill-intent exists, ensure that your desires don’t become excessive and all-consuming.
Catch that! There is nothing wrong with wanting more. It’s the ‘excessive and rapacious’ desire that makes a difference. Know when enough is enough. Enough can only be defined by you and it can only be determined once you know the end goal.
That’s the distinction between gratefulness and greed. Gratefulness is often the springboard. Once we appreciate what we have and where we have landed, we often recognize a greater potential. We seek to fulfil that potential by asking more questions, taking on more initiatives, fostering more relationship, etc. The level is tipped disproportionately (and we cross the line) when we fail to set boundaries and know when we have reached our capacity. We push and push…until sometimes, we meet greed.
So where does one draw the line between gratefulness and greed?
Start with Psalm 37:4, which tells us “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Don’t miss the preface. We are to first take delight in the Lord. When we do that, we grow closer to Him. As we grow closer, we become filled with gratefulness and begin to better understand his will for our lives. Our desires build on that. Those things that the Lord has placed inside of us. Our desires will guide and direct us. Our desires (those given by the Lord, not self-proclaimed) are already guaranteed.
But….we have to know when to slow down. Know when to pump the brakes. Know when to stop. Remain grateful with our provisions, skills, and achievements. Find our why. Go after our desires. But, be very careful, not to cross the threshold into greed. Accept the promise and move on.