Killing Mammon’s Covetousness

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible.

Max Lucado wrote, 

“The United States economy endured ten recessions between 1948 and 2001. These downturns lasted an average of ten months apiece and resulted in the loss of billions of dollars. Every five years or so, the economy dumps its suitors and starts over. What would you think of a man who did the same with women? What word would you use to describe a husband who philandered his way through nine different wives over fifty years? And what word would you use to describe wife number ten? How about this one? Fool. Those who trust money are foolish. They are setting themselves up to be duped and dumped into a dystopia of unhappiness.” —Max Lucado, Fearless  

Yikes! It sounds like money can be a scary thing. So let’s consider statement #12 in our series asking “Is that in the Bible?”—Money is the root of all evil. Is that in the Bible? No! 

That phrase is close to one that is in the Bible, but “close” misses the real meaning. What Paul actually wrote to Timothy is, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” (1 Timothy 6:10). 

That three-word phrase “love of money” is actually just one word in Greek, and it means “friend of silver.” 

The Bible teaches that money itself is neither good nor evil. It’s merely a tool like a hammer that is used for building something or for destroying something. If the hammer builds or destroys, it’s not the hammer that is good or evil but the attitude of the one gripping the hammer determines the good or evil outcome. 

So too with money. Money keeps the lights on, puts gas in our car, clothes on our backs, and food in our stomachs, it even helps people share the Gospel here and around the world. It’s our attitude toward money that leads us to good or evil thoughts and actions. 

In describing people who were a friend of silver, Paul uses phrases like this to describe them: teaches false doctrine … does not agree to sound instruction…and godly teaching … who think godliness is a means to financial gain … want to get rich … eager for money (1 Timothy 6:3-5, 9-10). 

In 1923 a group of the world’s most successful financiers gathered at the Edgewater Beach Hotel in Chicago. Together these men controlled more wealth than the United States Treasury! They met together to discuss how they could use their present wealth to gain even more wealth. Their plan was put into place and it began to reap the results they planned: they expanded their influence and their bank accounts. 

Then six years later, on October 29, 1929, Black Tuesday happened. The worst day for the New York Stock Exchange ever and the beginning of the Great Depression in the USA. 

What about that group of wealthy financiers who wanted more, more, more? 

  • Charles Schwab—president of Carnegie Steel Company—lived the last years of his life on borrowed money and died penniless 
  • Arthur Cutten—the world’s largest wheat speculator—died insolvent 
  • Richard Whitney—president of the NYSE—served a prison term for embezzlement 
  • Albert Fall—a member of the president’s cabinet—also went to prison 
  • Jessie Livermore—the “bear of Wall Street,” Leon Frazer—president of the Bank of International Settlements, and Ivar Kreuger—head of the world’s largest monopoly (a match company)—all committed suicide 

Their friendship with silver—their love of Money—led to their disastrous downfalls. 

Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money” (Matthew 6:24). 

The word Jesus used for “Money” is Mammon: wealth personified and deified. When we make Money our god—Money (with a capital “M”)—we naturally begin to covet what isn’t ours. Nothing satisfies and so we covet to possess more and more and more. 

Remember Jesus we cannot serve two masters. If we replace God with Mammon, it is inevitable that we will break all of the Ten Commandments. Has anyone ever made an idol to their Money, or murdered for money, or committed adultery, or stolen, or told lies? They sure have! 

Paul described those who worship Mammon this way—

Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. (1 Timothy 6:9-10)

But those who worship God, Paul described like this—

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. (1 Timothy 6:6-8) 

Simply put: Contentment with God kills Mammon’s covetousness! 

Want to know how to check your attitude toward money? When you think about giving God His tithe, or when the Holy Spirit prompts you to give to a missionary, what thought comes to your mind? Do you think, “Ugg, I have to give this” or do you rejoice to say, “Yes, I get to give this”? The answer to that question will give you a really good indication of how much pull Mammon has over your heart. 

We all have a choice to make: yield to God or yield to Mammon. But remember only God can give us contentment today and pleasures that last for eternity. 

If you’ve missed any of the messages in our series Is That In The Bible?, you can find the full list by clicking here. 

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Thursdays With Oswald—What Is Mammon?

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

What Is Mammon?

     You cannot serve God and Mammon [Matthew 6:24]. A man of the world says we can; with a little subtlety and wisdom and compromise (it is called diplomacy or tact), we can serve both. The devil’s temptation to our Lord to fall down and worship him, i.e., to compromise, is repeated over and over again in Christian experience. We have to realize that there is a division as high as heaven and as deep as hell between the Christian and the world. ‘Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God’ [James 4:4]. … 

     Never compromise with the spirit of Mammon. When you are right with God, you become contemptible in the eyes of the world. Put into practice any of the teaching of the Sermon on the Mount and you will be treated with amusement at first; then if you persist, the world will get annoyed and will detest you. … What is Mammon? The system of civilized life which organizes itself without considering God. … 

     When we become mature in godliness God trusts His own honor to us by placing us where the world, the flesh, and the devil may try us, knowing that ‘greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world’ [1 John 4:4].

From Studies In The Sermon On The Mount

Mammon wants to get what it wants to get, without considering God and without regard to the long-term consequences. Mammon wants satisfaction right now! 

Mammon is the system of the world. People are constantly driven by what they can get for themselves right now, with little—if any—thought to what God thinks or to what the inevitable outcome is going to be. 

A Christian is different. 

A Christian is focused on something which cannot be seen right now. But just because the rewards cannot be seen doesn’t make them any less real. In fact, Jesus teaches that the rewards He gives are Reality itself. 

When a Christian insists on doing things God’s way, the devil will sneer and people will laugh. But God’s Spirit in you is greater than all of that, and He will help you to stand firm in Him, not compromising with the lure of Mammon. 

Mammon

It’s a funny-sounding word, but it has deadly consequences!

Jesus said we cannot serve both God and mammon (Luke 16:13 KJV). That word mammon had no direct translation in the English language, so the translators of the King James Version of the Bible simply did a transliteration: they took the Greek word and carried the same word into English. The translators of the New International Version did something different with this word: they made it Money, with a capital M.

The idea behind this word is placing our trust or reliance in anything except God. For us, the means of our security and basic living needs seems to be money, so Money (with a capital M) seems like an appropriate way to translate mammon.

Jesus recommended giving an offering—above and beyond our tithe—as a way to defeat the Mammon Monster. Giving our tithe is simply obedience to God’s commands. But giving our offering shows our trust in God’s provision.

Giving an offering to God is counterintuitive.

After all, less money is less than more money! If I receive money, I tend to hang on to it. I tell myself, “This might come in handy if the economy nosedives, or if something unexpected comes up.” When I start thinking this way, I start to make money Mammon, because I see money as my provider, instead of God.

What an appropriate way to wrap up our Live Dead series yesterday, as we made faith promises to God. We said, “God, I believe You will provide the amount of money I should give as an offering. And when You do provide, I promise to give it.” Placing my trust in God not only helps me to live dead to the pull of Mammon, but also Jesus promised—

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. (Luke 6:38)

I don’t give to get. I give because I trust God to provide.

P.S. By the way, all of the offerings that come in as a result of these faith promises will be going directly to missions. Calvary Assembly of God will not be keeping one cent of these faith promise offerings.

If you’ve missed any messages in our series called Live Dead, you can find them all by clicking here.

Is That In The Bible?

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible.

A meme that makes me chuckle every time I see it is a “quote” attributed to Abraham Lincoln in which he says, “The problem with quotes found on the internet is that they are often not true.” 

(Not to spoil the joke for you, but unless Lincoln knew how to time travel to the future, I don’t think he knew about the modern internet! 😂) 

I love this meme because it captures something that so many people fall into: a quick acceptance of a statement without verifying its source or thinking through the implications of the statement’s truthfulness. 

Some insightful comments sound Shakespearean, but William never wrote them. 

Some pieces of wisdom sound Socratic, but Socrates never taught them. 

Some religious maxims sound godly, but the Bible never recorded them. 

I would like to invite you to join me as we relaunch this series called Is That In The Bible? I think you may be surprised to discover just how many phrases we call biblical aren’t, and how many phrases there are that we never realized are actually in the Bible. 

By the way, if you have a phrase that you would like to have us explore in this series, please leave it in a comment below. You may want to check out the questions we addressed in both the first installment and second installment of this series. 

In this installment of this series, we asked: Is this in the Bible…

True Prosperity

…and so he prospered (2 Chronicles 31:20-21). 

When I look up “prosper” in the dictionary, the first entry says, “to be successful or fortunate, especially in financial respects.” This isn’t even close to the Old Testament Hebrew word for prosper! 

God makes prosper a dependence on Him. Mammon makes prosper a dependence on self. 

The Hebrew word tsalach means: 

  • to overcome obstacles (like crossing a river) 
  • to be empowered by the Spirit of God to overcome an enemy (like Samson did) 
  • to flourish like a plant growing to full harvest 
  • to have favor with man so that good can be done for others (Nehemiah 1:11) 
  • to finish well (2 Chronicles 7:11) 
  • to be poured out; to be a conduit of God’s blessings to others 

Prosperity God’s way is being blessed to be a blessing to others.

Prosperity is never for me, only from God through me. 

Prosperity from God helps me overcome obstacles for others, defeat enemies for others, bring in a good harvest for others, have earthly favor that will benefit others, finish well for the sake of others. 

I’ll say it again: True prosperity ISN’T for me, it’s only from God through me! 

Hezekiah showed how God’s prosperity came through him to benefit others: 

  • he did “what was good and right and faithful before the Lord” 
  • he lived “in obedience to the law and the commands” 
  • “he sought his God and worked wholeheartedly” 

In light of this definition, I have no problem praying, “God, make me prosperous. As I seek You and work wholeheartedly, flow through me to bless others!

Money & Hammers

Money checklistHammers are very similar to money. Don’t believe me? Just take a look at some of the things they have in common. They both…

  1. …are tools.
  2. …can be used to build up or destroy.
  3. …are amoral.
  4. …don’t have any power until they’re in a person’s hand.

I realize in church circles it can make people uncomfortable to talk about money, but it shouldn’t be that way. The Bible is very clear in saying wealth comes from God, as well as how to use that wealth, so why should that be uncomfortable? Here are some of the things the Bible says about wealth:

  • If we honor God, He blesses our work (Proverbs 3:9-10).
  • If we take the glory for our success, God calls us “foolish” (Luke 12:16-21).
  • Money can be used to build God’s kingdom (Acts 4:34-37) or to build our own reputations (Acts 5:1-11).
  • Making the pursuit of money our priority becomes an idol (Luke 16:10-13).
  • The anxiety over money can choke our spiritual life (Matthew 13:22).
  • God gives us the ability to work, to make money, and to enjoy both the work and the rewards of work (Ecclesiastes 5:19).
  • God alone judges our attitude toward money (Luke 16:15).

It’s not money that is immoral, but our pursuit of Money (with a capital “M” or what the Bible calls Mammon) that is immoral.

It’s not money that will ruin us, but our trust in money that will ruin us.

It’s not money that gives us a secure future, but God Who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment (1 Timothy 6:17).

Don’t envy people with more money than you. Don’t look down on people with less money than you. Don’t—as Jesus said to the Pharisees—justify your opinions and attitudes about money.

Only an honest listening to the Holy Spirit about your attitude and lifestyle concerning money is what can keep us from letting money rob us of God’s blessing.


Links & Quotes

link quote

Some links to some interesting reading and quotes I found today.

Good thoughts from John Stonestreet: How Will Your Church Deal With Same-Sex “Marriage”?

If we divide ourselves between God and Mammon, or Christ and self, we shall make no progress. We must give ourselves wholly to holy things or else we shall be poor traders in heavenly business, and at our stocktaking no profit will be shown.” —Charles Spurgeon

A very intelligent post on the Noah movie: Gnosticism And Kabbalah In Aronofsky’s Noah. And if you want to read Dr. Brian Mattson’s complete post (which is referenced in the Gnosticism article), read Sympathy For The Devil. Here is one passage from Dr. Mattson’s post—

“In Darren Aronofsky’s new star-gilt silver screen epic, Noah, Adam and Eve are luminescent and fleshless, right up until the moment they eat the forbidden fruit. Such a notion isn’t found in the Bible, of course. This, among the multitude of Aronofsky’s other imaginative details like giant Lava Monsters, has caused many a reviewer’s head to be scratched. Conservative-minded evangelicals write off the film because of the ‘liberties’ taken with the text of Genesis, while a more liberal-minded group stands in favor of cutting the director some slack. After all, we shouldn’t expect a professed atheist to have the same ideas of ‘respecting’ sacred texts the way a Bible-believer would. Both groups have missed the mark entirely. Aronofsky hasn’t ‘taken liberties’ with anything. The Bible is not his text.

Fathers, here are 7 Things A Good Dad Says.

Parents not allowed to cheer for their own kids on the basketball court?! Yep! Check this out from Dr. Tim Elmore: The Rules We Create When We Lack Emotional Intelligence.

“When we cannot climb the ladder of prayer, surely God comes down to the foot of it where we lie. … We are His and He is of our kind—only all that is infinitely better.” —George MacDonald

“Are you aware of a brother or sister whose marriage is in turmoil? If so, what do you do about it? Do you merely tell others what a shame it is that they are about to break up? Or do you bring up their names to the Lord and strive for them in prayer? Do you desire this ministry of being a helper in prayer? If you don’t know anyone with a need, start by praying for all Christian marriages and all of God’s saints. Your prayers do not have to be long. Simply state your request, and trust God to hear you.” —David Wilkerson

Stopping More Than Enough

There’s a well-known line from the movie Wall Street in which the up-and-coming Bud Fox asks his rich mentor Gordon Gekko, “How much is enough?” By his words and actions, Gordon answers, “It’s never enough, pal!”

The pursuit of More Than Enough is beyond greed. It’s what both the Bible and the Greeks called Mammon: the relentless pursuit of More. It’s an easy trap in which anyone—young or old, rich or poor—can get caught. But God gave us a way out:

When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the LORD your God.

God wants us to acknowledge that He is Provider by deliberately leaving something behind.

Let me state that another way: God provides our daily bread, if I have anything that is More Than Enough, it’s not for me—it’s for others.

This is yet another work-in-progress for my life: I am thinking about how I can deliberately leave the More Than Enough behind for someone else? I have a couple of thoughts, but would love you to expand on this list:

  • Leave a larger tip for my server at the restaurant.
  • Pay for the people in the car behind me in line at the drive-thru.
  • Continue to be a proud member of the Junky Car Club, so I can use my car payment money to help others.
  • Find out what one day of work really earns me, and then give up just one day a month to help others (see One Day’s Wages).
  • Order less food at McDonald’s and giving a donation to The Ronald McDonald House.
  • When I have a buy-one-get-one-free coupon, give the free one away to someone in need.

That’s just the start of my list.

I want to honor God and I want to defeat the More Than Enough monster. I can do both by deliberately leaving something behind. Will you join me?

(And feel free to continue to add to the list of ways we can all deliberately leave something behind.)

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