Sinners Repent: The 7 Deadly Sins Translated for Wealth and Success

Sinners repent! Can the 7 Deadly Sins of life be translated to wealth and success?  You bet.

When I drink too much caffeine and can’t sleep, I turn to the Church Channel.   Once I tune in, I usually fall asleep within minutes.

While listening during my last insomniac episode, the pastor discussed the 7 Deadly Sins of life.  As I dozed off and subconsciously absorbed the message, I was amazed at how much the deadly sins correlated to general happiness, success, and financial freedom.

Of course, I use the term “wealth” as a synonym for both financial freedom and happiness.  Feel free to apply your own personal definition.  Here are the translations:

Deadly Sin #1: GLUTTONY

Not a week goes by when I don’t read an article about a star NFL athlete or once-famous actor who is now broke.  It was recently reported that Terrell Owens earned $80 million dollars over his career and is teetering now near bankruptcy.

For wealth, deadly sin #1 is gluttony where you spend everything you earn, and then more.

In my book, The Millionaire Fastlane, I characterize these individuals as Sidewalkers.  Sidewalkers live paycheck-to-paycheck, contract to contract, gig-to-gig, deal-to-deal, and spend every dollar they earn on lifestyle improvement.  Lifestyle is directly correlated to income.   If you earn $40K/year, you’re buying $40 jeans.  If you earn $400K/year, you’re buying $400 jeans.

The shocking news about the Sidewalking mindset is that it is blind to income and akin to a casino — the Sidewalk, or lack of financial discipline, doesn’t care how much you make because in the end, the casino always wins. While it seems Terrell was less of an extravagant spender than your average star athlete, his mortgage payments on 3 properties scattered across the country is reportedly almost $750,000/year.

REPENT: Always live below your means with an INTENT TO EXPAND your means.   The Fastlane is about exponential income while keeping expenses linear.  Unfortunately, follow most financial talking-heads and they will have you focusing on the wrong variable in the wrong equation.  Expense dickery (cut the coffee, cancel the movie channels) won’t make you a millionaire in a decade or less; an explosive income (or asset) will.

Deadly Sin #2: LUST

Lust causes us to make poor choices, and poor choices will put you in the poor-house.  Sources report that Terrell Owens has 4 baby-mamas. Here is an excerpt from the GQ article:

Friends may not be calling, or teams, but lawyers, a slew of them, definitely have him on speed dial. Especially those who represent the four women to whom he pays a total of $44,600 a month in child support for his four children, ages 5 to 12: “If there’s anything I’m sorry about, it’s getting involved with all that.” He never actually dated any of the women, he says. One was a one-night stand, the others “repeat offenders.”

Owens, who has never been married, concedes he is “not a very good judge of character.” Still, he “never suspected they were the types to do what they done in the past year.” Last summer, when the money started to dry up for real and the extent of his financial disaster became clear, he reduced the amount he paid to each of the women. Three of them sued him. When he failed to show up for a court date with the mother of his oldest child, Tariq, because it conflicted with his public tryout, a bench warrant was issued for his arrest. “She wouldn’t reschedule,” he says, his hands reaching out unconsciously as if strangling an imaginary neck. “She’d pressed me in a deposition about if I intended to try to get on another team, but then when I do the workout, do what I can to get work, this is what she does.”

Now he is in court with all four women, whom he lumps together like one big bloodsucking blob. None of them are being fair, he says: “They know I’m not working; they know the deal.” Although he never established regular visitation with any of the children through the courts, he says he sees the eldest three as much as he can when their mothers allow it. So bitter is his relationship with the mother of the youngest child, a son, that he has never met the boy.

When you “gotta have something” you will constantly put yourself into troublesome circumstances.  From that gorgeous busty model in the VIP section at the club to that brand new Acura financed over 60 years at 20% interest.

REPENT: Pay close attention to those “must have” things.  Will they introduce “can’t avoid” consequences into your life?  Every action you take has potential consequences. Most people can’t critically think past the point of “feel good”. If you’re 30 years old and have 4 baby-mamas, you’ve just shackled several decades of “can’t avoid” consequences into your life. Will that hot one-night-stand be an evening you will never forget?  And for the wrong reason?  Yes, that brand new car will make you feel good for a few weeks, but what about next year when the newer, latest-and-greatest model comes out and you’re stuck with that “cant afford” $699/mo payment for the next 5 years?

Deadly Sin #3: GREED

Greed will not only put you in the poor house, it will put you in the jail house.

People who are greedy are often exposed for fraud and end up on the front pages of the New York Times or in court.  Greed has built many failed empires, from the fictional character Gordon Gekko, to the real life stories of Bernard Madoff, Enron, and HealthSouth.

Gekko said “greed is good” but it’s only good when it brings true value to the marketplace.  Self-interest is responsible for a lot of great products that we happily consume.

Unfortunately, in some cases greed overtakes ethical and moral boundaries and becomes symbolic to the love of money at any cost.  Greed can cause you to have a contemptuous disregard for what actually causes money to change hands.

Anyone can make millions by lying, cheating, and deceiving because the value equation is distorted beyond the legitimate marketplace offerings.  When a small internet bank offers you a 10% one year CD and the closest competitor is offering 1%, the value equation is distorted causing “easy money” to flow.

Uncontrolled greed is a sign that you lack the patience to build a legitimate value equation that the world will honor.  In contempt for the process, the shortcut is taken and a deceitful value equation is offered.  (12% guaranteed return!  Forced matrix guarantees you’ll earn $1,000s for 45 seconds of work per day!)  In other words, you overpromise and underdeliver.   Here are some great cons perfected by GREED.

REPENT: Understand that money is a byproduct of value.  The more value you provide, the more money you make.  Uncontrolled greed will misrepresent the value equation in order to cheat the value exchange.  Whenever you see “too good to be true” you’re probably seeing greed, not extraordinary value!

Deadly sin #4: SLOTH

Apathy will kill anything.

From “passive income” businesses to that blooming marigold on the window sill.  The world is constantly evolving.  If you make a living on the internet, the evolution is 10X as quick.  If you sit back and bask in your accomplishments, you’ll find that someone else has come along and taken the spotlight.

This *sin* was the #1 reason why I sold my company — I was apathetic and no longer enjoyed the process.  A sale was a no brainer because to “sit back” and enjoy the nice cash flow would have been a slow-drip death.  Our businesses, and our lives, must constantly evolve with change.

As they say, the only constant is CHANGE.   The good news?  Change, and the disruption it causes, is what creates millionaires. Ebooks are disrupting publishing. (I now own a publishing company). Blogs are disrupting newspapers.  The internet killed the Yellow Pages.  Mobile/tablet apps are disrupting the internet. Disruption ensures that the grave penalty for sloth is death.

REPENT: If you’re not growing, you’re dying.  I like to follow a path of KAIZEN which is Japanese for continual improvement.  Everyday I try to improve on something, no matter how marginal.  It could be something as so simple as learning a new CSS or HTML tag.  Marginal daily gains equals spectacular yearly gains. Although with continual improvement, there is one caveat:  Be careful not to get lost in “future thinking” — the old “Ill be happy ‘when this’, ‘when that'” syndrome.  Enjoy the moment and relish your daily improvements.  Love today and be excited about tomorrow.

Deadly Sin #5: ANGER

I’d rather be a happy thousandaire than an angry millionaire.

I heard to harbor rage and anger at someone is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.

Anger can be a powerful motivator, but it isn’t the emotion I’d want to rely on.

One expectation I prepared for prior to authoring a book was the idea that I would face “haters” or people who didn’t like what I had to say.

Newsflash: This is normal.

Anytime you stand for something, especially something that is an outlier position, you will face headwinds.  Anytime you expand your horizons and risk putting yourself out there, you will face this kind of negativity.

Don’t get angry because anger doesn’t change their reality, it can only change yours. Why on earth would you give some idiot who thinks the best use of his time is to troll YouTube spreading his negative mindset, this kind of power?

No matter how many people write false or negative things about me, I don’t allow it to impact my life.  When a blogger writes The Millionaire Fastlane sucks, and/or MJ’s message sucks, does it alter the dream I am living? Nope. The best revenge is living well.

REPENT: Expect headwinds (haters, liars, negative Nancys) on your journey.  Not everyone likes coffee– why get upset at those who don’t?

Deadly Sin #6: ENVY

In the movie, Wall Street, Money Never Sleeps, Shia Lebouf asks the rich financier, Josh Brolin “How much money is enough?  What number is enough for you?”  His answer? 


I believe MORE is ENVY.

Envy is a prescription for unhappiness because there will always be someone else with something better, bigger, and faster.  In other words, the illusion of MORE never arrives. MORE keeps you confined in future thinking and denies all the joys of your present.

Instead, find your ENOUGH.

I’ve found my enough and while MORE would be a sweet surprise, I don’t need it.

If I wanted MORE (4 Lamborghinis instead of 1, or a 12,000 square ft house instead of 4,500) I’d be in trouble.  I’d be back on the treadmill of the rat race facing sleepless nights and pressure filled deadlines.  When you want for nothing and find your ENOUGH, it’s a great place to be.  Find your ENOUGH and you’ll find happiness too.

REPENT: Strive for more, but know how much and what exactly is your enough.  Be grateful for what you have. (Many people around the world don’t have clean water, toilets, food, etc.)  You might be shocked at how close you are to “enough” — once you get there, you gain immunity from the rampant message of consumerism.  My personal turning point of happiness was at age 27 and ironically, I was broke — it was the 1st time in my life I was fully self-supportive via entrepreneurship.

Deadly Sin #7: PRIDE

I see a troublesome pattern in today’s youth.  They are terribly self-absorbed and self-entitled.  Play a sport and wham, you get a trophy regardless of performance, effort or improvement.  People think they deserve everything without obedience to process, accomplishment, or effort.

Take out mortgage you can’t afford?  You deserve a better rate.

Rear end grandma in a fender-bender?  You deserve a large cash award from some rich insurance company.

Graduate from college?  You deserve a high paying job, full with paid vacations and stock options.

We’re being mindlessly bred to believe we deserve everything without obedience to real effort or good decision-making.  We’re being taught a laundry-list of narcissistic self-centered mantras such as live your dreams, follow your passion, “do what you love” and other market-indifferent proverbs.

This is PRIDE, an insidious evolution of the “you are special” crowd, an endowment ingratiated on everyone by simply existing.

If you want to be special, be special and make a difference in the life of someone else.

There is nothing special about normal.  There is nothing special about doing nothing.

If you think you’re “too cool” “too hot” or “too smart” to be picking up dog shit or mopping floors at the local IHOP, you’ll likely never escape the confines of normal because you’ve already elevated yourself to a special, illusionary place in your mind.

Every day I get emails from readers who will take time to write me a note of thanks like “Your book was great” or “it changed my life.” — writing a book doesn’t make you or I special, only the impact that book has on others gives you the chance.

REPENT: Expect to get your hands dirty.  Entrepreneurs who aren’t afraid of getting down in the mud aren’t afraid of failure nor the setbacks that come with the territory. Pride makes you fear failure and fear of failure will prevent you from acting. If you’re goal is to make $1M in 1 year and yet, you’re “too good” to figure out how to earn $1K in 1 month, you’re pride is standing in the way.   You can’t help millions until you learn how to help one — often that will require a sacrifice and a swallowing of pride.


To conclude, the are a lot of seemingly wealthy people who are miserable and my bet is that their misery is financed from one or more of these sins.   None of us are immune, including me.

In my younger years, I struggled with gluttony in many aspects of life, from food, to “stuff”.  Now older and wiser, my bigger struggle is SLOTH, or apathy.  I’m very content and happy — sometimes I categorize this as a potential sloth and haven’t quite learned how to deal with the guilt of always feeling the need to “do something”.  Yes, on days when I do nothing, I sometimes feel guilty and wonder, I am being SLOTHFUL?

In your own life story, what sin(s) do you struggle with?


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  • IMHO the youths of this day are guilty of a complex combination of all the problematic sins you’ve listed above. Unfortunately society keeps telling them to  find their passion; commit to positive thinking, engage in classic visualization and believe in themselves. Then somehow the universe will look down on them with good graces! A much needed kick in the butt from you.
    As a young Nigerian, I think Pride will do it for me. Nigerians and Africans won’t hesitate to travel abroad to work odd jobs in the name of greener pastures they never find, but won’t work slightly better jobs back home with diligence.

  • Ronald Nzimora

    wow! This is so great a read!

  • Moran

    MJ this is the best articles i read in a long time! this is your best in the blog by far! you should write more! more posts! more books! you’ve got so much to offer, dont be ashamed to put it all out! :)

  • Steven

    This is a great article MJ.  Too true about the part about apathy!

  • Marc

    MJ, I apologize, my English is not very good but I want to thank you for this article.This is the first time I take time to respond to an article but it’s worth it!
    I took all the time to read it and be sure to understand everything, at least, I hope I understood everything!

    I bookmark this article and I will read it again and again, I will LEARN it!

  • Balsop123

    Great Article, thanks.

  • Kevin

    “… to that brand new Acura financed over 60 years at 20% interest.”

    Ohh the horror!

    If you’re gonna out yourself in hock please make it something that gets your blood flowing every time you drive it.

    Might I suggest a M3, RS5, or 911 GT3.

  • Lawanda T

    Thanks mj,

    I appreciate the parallels drawn and the insight shared by this article. Keep it coming!

    And recognizing slothful behavior is the first step to reversing it!

  • Annoymous

    Great article MJ. For me, my sin is lust.  It’s crazy u mentioned that because life programs you to confirm. To do what everyone else. It’s easy to get your check from a job u hate to and to go ahead and blow it. But it takes a different mindset to put that money away or back into ones business. I see from my co workers making under 40k per year driving Mercedes, Lexus, etc; And I ask myself, how on earth can this people afford this when I ride my bike to work.  It’s easy to fall into that same trap of keeping up with the joneses but from the way things looks on the outside, they look really good on the outside but financially, these people have to rely more and more and that steady paycheck to afford the lifestyle. One day, I believe that I wil be able buy myself a nice car, but instead of financing it, it would be paid for 100 percent cash;  Great article overall, this is one of the best articles you have written. Take care bro and keep doing what u are doing.

  • Itslegal

    Definitely Gluttony and Sloth. I have spent all my income up until now, on stuff. For example a 30 foot Scarab speed boat, flat screen tvs all over the house, expensive vacations. I see the error of my ways, I have had good income for the past ten years, but unfortunately spent it as fast as it came in.  That will change, and partly thanks to the econonmy in 2010 and partly to MJ.  Thank you for opening my eyes MJ.  My other sin is Sloth, I started a small law firm in 1997 and have been sloth by acting satisfied with my one small business which produces a good (but not great) income over the years.   I have had several good ideas for other business ventures, but have not pursued them due to sloth.  An interesting side note, sloths (the real animal) keep popping up in my life. We played with one and hand fed it, at Discovery Cove in Orlando and it seems that the word sloth or pictures and articles about sloths keep coming up in my life daily. Sort of wierd if you ask me.

  • Psabaj

    Pastor MJ you speak the truth! I think we are all guilty of sins of the past. The question is did we learn from it or become repeat offenders like lust boy.

    • I prefer to call failures the building blocks to wisdom.

  • All great points MJ. I couldn’t agree more. I fear too many people are looking for happiness in all the wrong places. In many ways we’ve been sold a bill of goods by society and many marketers. It’s time to wake up and realize that happiness isn’t found in stuff and we can all choose to be happy right where we are. That doesn’t mean we stop striving to improve ourselves or contribute more to the world, but it’s mandatory we banish the “if then, I’ll be happy” attitude. Because it’s actually a recipe for the exact opposite: constant unhappiness.

  • Anonymous

    Great points there MJ. am intrigued with the way you see opportunities in this life. This is what sets you apart. struggling with lust, greed and envy yeah broke most of the time. this will change, one of my goals this year.

  • Hokoleskwa

    I know what you mean about feeling slothful, MJ. I too feel like I have to be productive constantly, even moreso since I started down the fastlane path. I was lying on the beach in Miami last fall on vacation, but couldn’t stop thinking “I need to work harder on growing my business so I can have all the beach-bum time I please!” It is indeed a challenge to remember to appreciate the gifts of the present while still working on achieving a better future. Imagining that those occasional getaways can become a permanent lifestyle is great motivation, though!

  • Yahdmon

    I knew you would have been a pastor if you hadn’t gotten into limos… lol

  • Ken


    Dost now repent.

    Will check back in five years.