The Seven Deadly Vices:

2. Greed versus Generosity

by Don Schwager


"Take heed, and beware of all coveteousness; for a man's life does

not consist in the abundance of his possessions" (Luke 12:15).


Avarice (or coveteousness) is an inordinate desire for wealth or possessions or for another's possessions. The word greedy stresses lack of restraint or lack of discrimination in desire. Avarice implies obsessive acquisitiveness especially of money and strongly suggests stinginess. The coveteous person will violate all the laws of reason and justice to gain money or property. And when he has them he will either sin to retain them or will use them to commit other sins.

"He who contributes in liberality; he who gives aid, with zeal; he who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness" (Romans 12:8).

The direct opposite of avarice is generosity, also known as liberality. Liberality is a balanced attitude towards wealth and material possessions, and the control or moderation of one's desires. It is an attitude of generosity in the use of money and possessions for charitable works. The liberal person knows how to use money and possessions well for the benefit of others. He takes pleasure in giving things to others. The virtue of liberality helps him guard against the danger of becoming too attached to his possessions.

Example from the scripture: In the Book of Joshua, chapter 7, Achan confesses that he coveted the spoils of war which had been devoted to the Lord. Achan was stoned for taking what belonged to the Lord. An example of liberality can be seen in Acts 2:44-47. The early Christians in Jerusalem "sold their possessions and goods and distributed them to all, as any had need."