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. 

Links & Quotes

link quote

 

“The way to thwart the devil is to strengthen the very thing he is trying most to destroy—your faith.” —John Piper

“O blessed hurricane that drives the soul to God and God alone! … And now you have nothing but your God to trust to, what are you going to do? To fret? To whine? O, I pray you, do not thus dishonor your Lord and Master! Now, play the man, play the man of God. Show the world that your God is worth ten thousand worlds to you. Show rich men how rich you are in your poverty when the Lord God is your helper. Show the strong man how strong you are in your weakness when underneath you are the everlasting arms. Now man, now is your time to glorify God.” —Charles Spurgeon

“When it comes to a question of our forgiving other people, it is partly the same and partly different [from asking God to forgive us]. It is the same because, here also, forgiving does not mean excusing. Many people seem to think it does. They think that if you ask them to forgive someone who has cheated or bullied them you are trying to make out that there was really no cheating or no bullying. But if that were so, there would be nothing to forgive. They keep on replying, ‘But I tell you the man broke a most solemn promise.’ Exactly: that is precisely what you have to forgive. (This doesn’t mean that you must necessarily believe his next promise. It does mean that you must make every effort to kill every taste of resentment in your own heart—every wish to humiliate or hurt him or to pay him out.) The difference between this situation and the one in which you are asking God’s forgiveness is this. In our own case we accept excuses too easily; in other people’s we do not accept them easily enough.” ―C.S. Lewis, in Weight Of Glory

“Forgiveness is not foolishness. Forgiveness, at its core, is choosing to see your offender with different eyes. By the way, how can we grace-recipients do anything less? Dare we ask God for grace when we refuse to give it?” —Max Lucado

“Money is the currency of human resources. So the heart that loves money is a heart that pins its hopes, and pursues its pleasures, and puts its trust in what human resources can offer. So the love of money [1 Timothy 6:10] is virtually the same as faith in money—belief (trust, confidence, assurance) that money will meet your needs and make you happy.” —John Piper

“When the devil throws our sins up to us and declares that we deserve death and hell, we ought to speak thus: ‘I admit that I deserve death and hell. What of it? Does this mean that I shall be sentenced to eternal damnation? By no means. For I know One who suffered and made satisfaction in my behalf. His name is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Where He is, there shall I be also.’” ―Martin Luther

Really proud to see how my fellowship, The Assemblies of God, is helping those with mental diseases.

What emotions pop up when someone says to you, “Can we talk about this?” Seth Godin has some helpful thoughts on this.

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.


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 counter-intuitive. 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 just 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.

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