Luke 12:13-21 (NRSV)
13 Someone in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me." 14 But he said to him, "Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?" 15 And he said to them, "Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one's life does not consist in the abundance of possessions." 16 Then he told them a parable: "The land of a rich man produced abundantly. 17 And he thought to himself, 'What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?' 18 Then he said, 'I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.' 20 But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?' 21 So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God."
The main character in Leo Tolstoy's short story, How Much Land Does a Man Need?, is a peasant farmer named, Pahom. Pahom would often say to himself, "Busy as we are from childhood tilling mother earth, we peasants will always die as we are living with nothing of our own. If only we had our own land, it would be different." By sacrificing, scraping together meager savings, and even hiring out his son as a laborer, Pahom and family managed to buy a 40-acre farm. Harvests were good, the family prospered, but Pahom was not content. He wanted more land.
A stranger arrived in their village one day who told of a distant country, where land could be acquired very cheaply. Pahom cashed in his assets and traveled to the distant land where he learned that for 1000 rubles he could purchase all the land he could walk around between sunrise and sunset. The procedure was simple: find a fixed starting point, deposit your money, walk out your boundaries, but by sundown you must have returned to the starting point or forfeit the 1000 rubles.
Before daybreak the next morning Pahom was ready. He was taken to a broad, fertile plain where officials helped him select a starting point. Pahom paid the rubles and started toward the rising sun. But each time he reached a point of return, he decided he could encompass more land and so he walked farther. At noonday he realized he had tried to take in too much. "If only I had not wanted so much," he moaned. So he made a diagonal move and hurried back to the starting point. He increased his pace to a run as the sun slowly descended to the western horizon. He ran so hard that he was on the verge of collapse, but he heard the officials shouting and, summoning his last bit of strength, he sprinted toward the starting point. As the final rays of sun disappeared, he gave a cry and fell forward before the officials. "Ah, you're a fine fellow," they said. "You have gained much good land." But Pahom could not hear their comments, for his heart failed and he died. They dug a grave for him, six feet long and three feet wide, and buried him--all the land he needed at the end.
The Greek word for greed, pleonexia, literally means: "The yearning to grasp more than is needed." So how much is enough? Enough to feel successful? Enough to feel secure about the future? Enough to find some kind of recognition and status? How much is enough? Think about it.