I read this verse and thought of a scene from my own life back in March of 2005. I was in Magadan Russia trying to find the post office. I was standing still for a moment looking around hoping to find some landmark to help me (not many spoke English and the signs cannot be figured out because they use the cyrillic alphabet so the words don't even remotely look like English). One of the few English speakers stopped and looked in the same direction I was looking. At the time the city was in the process of building a vast cathedral with gold onion domes very similar to the Kremlin in Moscow.
The man looked at it and expressed disgust. He said there were so many needy in Magadan and the church was building this huge cathedral rather than meeting the poor's needs. He then walked away.
Now, I don't know what the orthodox church in Magadan does for the poor. The church might do a lot. But the cost of this building was a stumbling block for this man.
And I cannot say if God was leading the church to build this cathedral or not, but I know that in our own lives we must be very certain about God is part of any type of luxury in our lives, anything we spend lots of money on. Resources are from God and we must use them as He calls us to. He isn't against money or riches, but when He gives them a big chunk of them should be going toward doing His work in this world rather than our own comfort (this is my opinion, but I believe it is backed up by Scripture).
Later in the same chapter Peter writes, "he (Balaam) received a rebuke for his own transgression; for a dumb donkey, speaking with a voice of a man restrained the madness of the prophet." 2 Peter 2:16
What was that madness? It was choosing money over doing what was right. It was taking money for doing the enemy's work.
Peter called the decision to go after money as madness.
As we begin our Christmas preparations later this month we must think of how to glorify God in our gift giving. Giving gifts is fun. I love giving gifts. There is nothing wrong with this part of Christmas. It is a lovely tradition and can be a benefit to our faith and our children's faith if done well.
A gift that helps the child be the child God made him or her to be is perfect. Gifts that encourages the good parts of people to flourish are perfect. There are no rights or wrongs in gift giving really. It is totally individual but it should be approached humbly and through God's wisdom and prayer.
(below you can see a picture of the Church from Magadan.)