Greed and Envy: The Twin Terrors
When we set our sights on God, we're freed from greed and envy by practicing generosity and gratitude.
Let's begin with a story I read in The New York Times. It's a story told by a young Wall Street trader who found himself addicted to money—not just to money, but to more money. I'm going to let him tell the story in his own words.
Eight years ago, I walked onto the trading floor at a bank in Boston to begin my summer internship. I already knew I wanted to be rich. When I walked onto that trading floor for the first time and saw those glowing flat screen TVs, high-tech computer monitors, and phone turrets, I knew what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I was competitive and ambitious—a wrestler at Columbia University. After graduation, I got a job at Bank of America. I was sharp, clear-eyed, and hardworking. At the end of my first year, I was thrilled to receive a $40,000 bonus. For the first time in my life, I didn't have to balance my checkbook before withdrawing money. Over the next few years, I worked like a maniac and climbed the ladder. Four years later, I made $2 million a year, rented a $6,000 per month loft apartment, and got myself a girlfriend. I could go to any restaurant in Manhattan or be second row at the Knicks-Lakers game, just by picking up the phone.
Still, I was nagged by envy. On a trading floor, everyone sits together. When the guy next to you makes $10 million, your $2 million doesn't look so sweet anymore. I went to work for a hedge fund, working elbow-to-elbow with billionaires, and became a giant fireball of greed. In my eighth year on Wall Street, my bonus was $3.6 million, and I was angry because it wasn't enough.
To make a long story short, that ended up being his last year on Wall Street. At a certain point, he woke up to what was happening to him and to those around ...
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Bryan Wilkerson is pastor of Grace Chapel in Lexington, Massachusetts.