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What Would You Do for Ten Million Dollars?

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By Jerry Newcombe, CP Op-Ed Contributor
June 20, 2013|8:41 am

I enjoy collecting information about studies that relate to some aspect of the Bible. Over and over, social science data tends to confirm the Scriptures.

A new study verifies the truth revealed in Paul's statement in the Bible that the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.

Paul didn't say that money is the root of evil---although I've heard people misrepresent the Bible as supposedly saying that. Nor did he say it's the lack of money that is the root of evil, although I've heard some people say that's what it should say.

Yet I've known some poor people who were very greedy, and some rich who were not.

Well, a new study validates what the Bible said 2,000 years ago---not that it needs validation---that the love of money is indeed a corrupting influence.

Writing for CNBC, Mark Koba penned a report, "Just the Scent of Money is Corrupting: Study."

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Koba writes, "The report by University of Utah and Harvard researchers found that individuals who could gain monetarily through unethical behavior were more likely to demonstrate that behavior than those who weren't offered a financial gain."

Kristin Smith-Crowe, professor of management at the University of Utah, co-authored the recently released study. She said, "We certainly found that the love of money is corrupting and just the mere exposure to it makes people do bad things"

In our highly materialistic age, it's easy to forget that ancient Christians classified greed as one of the "Seven Deadly Sins."

The sin of greed is as old as time and as current as today's news. Do you realize that a significant minority of Americans today would be willing to kill you if the price were right?

These are among the many disturbing findings reported in a book about twenty years old, entitled, The Day America Told the Truth.

This groundbreaking work revealed just how immoral we have become as a nation. Anecdotally, of course, we read about that every day in the news. But this book was based on extensive surveying where the respondents were guaranteed anonymity.

One of the findings is related to greed. Pastor R. Kent Hughes writes about the disturbing results to an intriguing question the respondents were asked: "The survey…posed the question, 'What are you willing to do for $10 million?'"

Hughes reports, "Twenty-five percent would abandon their families, 23 percent would become a prostitute for a week, and 7 percent would kill a stranger. Think of it. In a gathering of 100 Americans, there are seven who would consider killing you if the price was right. In 1,000 there are seventy."

Gulp.

For his short 2012 movie, Genius, evangelist and film-producer Ray Comfort took to the streets of California and interviewed a lot of people about values and morals.

Here is my paraphrase of one of his questions on the topic of greed: "Would you be willing to poison a total stranger if you would be paid a few million dollars for it?"

Guest after guest basically said, "Yes." With some of them, they said it as if were a joke. But they still said it.

The film has been described this way: "It is shocking to hear how many are willing to kill another human being for simply a few million dollars. Such is the moral state of North America."

Again, greed is nothing new. A neighbor of Abraham Lincoln's in Springfield saw Lincoln passing by with his two sons. Both were crying loudly. "What is the matter with the boys?" asked the neighbor. "The same thing that is the matter with the whole world," answered Lincoln. "I have three walnuts and each boy wants two."

In writing against greed, of course, the Bible in no way condemns striving for more money, to earn a better living. More power to you.

In fact, in the same letter (1 Timothy) where Paul says that the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, he also says, "Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."

But greed is not a matter of meeting basic needs. Greed involves breaking the Tenth Commandment: "You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant or his maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor."

Greed is "the desire for more"---and more and more and more, and there is no end to it. Both the Bible and the social science research documents that the love of money corrupts.

Jerry Newcombe, D.Min., is co-host of and spokesman for Truth that Transforms with D. James Kennedy (formerly The Coral Ridge Hour ). He has also written or co-written 23 books, including The Book That Made America: How the Bible Formed Our Nation and Answers from the Founding Fathers . Jerry co-wrote (with Dr. Peter Lillback) the bestselling, George Washington's Sacred Fire. www.truthinaction.org.
 

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