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. 

Saturday In The Proverbs—The Best Things Are Hard, But Rewarding (Proverbs 25)

[Each chapter in the Book of Proverbs contains thoughts that fit into a theme; they are not just random thoughts gathered together. In this “Saturday In The Proverbs” series, I will share a theme that I see in each chapter. But the cool thing about God’s Word is that you may see an entirely different theme. That’s great! If you do, I would love for you to share it in the comments below.]

Good things—the best of things—usually require hard work. They don’t just come to us but we have to discover them. However, the good things are always worth the effort!

Things like:

  • Revelation, insight, new discoveries (vv. 2-3)
  • Righteousness (vv. 4-5)
  • Recognition (vv. 6-7)
  • Quality relationships (vv. 8-10)
  • A timely word (vv. 11-13, 25)
  • Good gifts (vv. 14, 21-22)
  • Confrontation that leads to restoration (v. 15)
  • Temperance (v. 16)

The opposite is also true: cutting corners, looking for the quick fix, and not considering long-term consequences bring pain. Things like:

  • Frayed relationships (vv. 17, 20, 24)
  • Provoking anger in others (vv. 18, 23)
  • Distrust (vv. 19, 26)
  • Self-promotion that rankles others (v. 27)
  • Lack of self-control that leads to destruction (v. 28)

Good things are hard, but they’re so worth the effort! 

Saturday In The Proverbs—Knowing True & False Riches (Proverbs 22)

[Each chapter in the Book of Proverbs contains thoughts that fit into a theme; they are not just random thoughts gathered together. In this “Saturday In The Proverbs” series, I will share a theme that I see in each chapter. But the cool thing about God’s Word is that you may see an entirely different theme. That’s great! If you do, I would love for you to share it in the comments below.]

…riches… (Proverbs 22:1, 4, 16).

There are earthly riches and there are heavenly riches. There are temporary gains and there is eternal wealth. This Proverb helps direct us to true riches that last forever. 

Good character and a good reputation are better than money (v. 1)

God alone decides what is truly valuable (v. 2)

Prudence helps you avoid bankruptcy (v. 3)

Humbly fearing God is the path to eternal wealth (v. 4)

A perverse pursuit of wealth is a hard and painful path (v. 5)

Better godly children than gobs of money (vv. 6, 15)

Debt enslaves (v. 7)

Cutting corners to make a buck will come back to bite you (v. 8)

Generosity leads to more blessings (v. 9)

Don’t pay attention to those who scoff at God’s ways (vv. 10, 24, 25)

A grace-filled, pure lifestyle will get you noticed and rewarded (v. 11)

God rewards those who do things His way (vv. 12, 17-21)

A good work ethic brings rewards (vv. 13, 29)

Immoral pursuits end in a deep pit (v. 14)

Don’t treat people differently because of their ‘net worth’ (vv. 16, 22, 23; see also James 2:2-4)

Be careful to whom you make financial  commitments (vv. 26, 27)

Don’t encroach on others’ space (v. 28) 

Saturday In The Proverbs—Fools Talk A Good Game, But… (Proverbs 14)

[Each chapter in the Book of Proverbs contains thoughts that fit into a theme; they are not just random thoughts gathered together. In this “Saturday In The Proverbs” series, I will share a theme that I see in each chapter. But the cool thing about God’s Word is that you may see an entirely different theme. That’s great! If you do, I would love for you to share it in the comments below.]

Where no oxen are, the trough is clean; but much increase come by the strength of an ox (Proverbs 14:4).

You can have something that looks pristine on the outside, but it is all show and no production. Eventually, it will all come crashing down. 

Or you can have the messiness of productivity which will result in lasting success. 

The wise make the productive mess, know that they are building something lasting. The fool only tries to make it look good on the outside, but they are undermining themselves (see vv. 1, 11). 

The fool talks a good game, but…

  • their perversity is despised by God
  • their pride injures themselves and others 
  • they lie to keep up appearances 
  • they never learn from their mistakes
  • they are deceitful 
  • they are on the path to death
  • they are self-confident and quick-tempered, which alienates them from others 
  • they will eventually serve the wise
  • they despise others’ needs 
  • they are poor
  • they are fearful of the future
  • they don’t leave a good legacy for their children
  • they rot with envy
  • the oppress poor people
  • then will end up in utter shame

…all for the sake of trying to make others think they have lives that are perfect! 

Keeping up appearances is hard, painful, unrewarding, and will ultimately end in disaster. 

Saturday In The Proverbs—Nourishing (Proverbs 13)

[Each chapter in the Book of Proverbs contains thoughts that fit into a theme; they are not just random thoughts gathered together. In this “Saturday In The Proverbs” series, I will share a theme that I see in each chapter. But the cool thing about God’s Word is that you may see an entirely different theme. That’s great! If you do, I would love for you to share it in the comments below.]

A man shall eat well by the fruit of his mouth … The righteous eats to the satisfying of his soul… (Proverbs 13:2, 25).

God’s wisdom never leaves us flat. Never leaves us with a bad taste in our mouth. Never leaves us unsatisfied. Never leaves us without all that we need. 

God’s wisdom…

  • instructs (v. 1) 
  • satisfies the soul (vv. 2, 12, 25)
  • preserves life (vv. 3, 14)
  • brings real riches (vv. 4, 7, 11)
  • promotes (v. 5) 
  • guards (vv. 6, 8)
  • leaves a legacy (vv. 9, 22, 24)
  • increases peace (v. 10)
  • rewards (v. 13) 
  • brings favor (vv. 15, 18)
  • grows knowledge (v. 16)
  • preserves health (v. 17) 
  • gets things down (v. 19) 
  • gains even more wisdom (v. 20) 
  • repays good (v. 21)
  • wastes nothing (v. 23) 

Wow! How nourishing God’s Wisdom is! 

Saturday In The Proverbs— Deliverance (and other blessings) (Proverbs 11)

[Each chapter in the Book of Proverbs contains thoughts that fit into a theme; they are not just random thoughts gathered together. In this “Saturday In The Proverbs” series, I will share a theme that I see in each chapter. But the cool thing about God’s Word is that you may see an entirely different theme. That’s great! If you do, I would love for you to share it in the comments below.]

…delivers… (Proverbs 11).

Following God’s wisdom delivers people from a world of hurt—even an eternity (literally!) of suffering. 

Those who follow God’s wisdom are delivered from:

  • the second death 
  • lust that derails 
  • troubles that usually send people tumbling
  • hypocrisy’s fallout
  • God’s punishment 

Other blessings that come when we follow God’s wisdom includes: 

  • guidance 
  • direction
  • blessing your city
  • safety from poor decisions 
  • security and freedom
  • honor
  • soul health
  • sure rewards
  • eternal life
  • God’s delighting in you
  • great return on investments
  • blessing others
  • blessing from others
  • favor
  • flourishing
  • leadership
  • soul winning
  • God’s ultimate rewards 

WOW—who wouldn’t want that list of blessings?!

Saturday In The Proverbs—Do You *Really* Want To Hear This? (Proverbs 8)

[Each chapter in the Book of Proverbs contains thoughts that fit into a theme; they are not just random thoughts gathered together. In this “Saturday In The Proverbs” series, I will share a theme that I see in each chapter. But the cool thing about God’s Word is that you may see an entirely different theme. That’s great! If you do, I would love for you to share it in the comments below.]

Does not wisdom cry out…? (Proverbs 8:1).

Wisdom is accessible to all. Wisdom is not hiding; she is in plain sight and calls out to everyone (vv. 2-4). The question is: Do I want to find Wisdom? Do I really want to hear what she has to say? 

The Apostle Paul tells us to take all our thoughts captive and filter out the thoughts that aren’t obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). In other words, I need to eliminate the thoughts that are impure, false, vile, discouraging, unloving, proud, or un-praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8). 

Wisdom herself says her words are: 

  • excellent
  • right
  • truthful
  • righteous
  • pure
  • easy to understand
  • sound
  • strengthening

The rewards for really listening to Wisdom’s words are pretty great too: 

  • treasures 
  • righteousness
  • justice
  • God’s blessings
  • eternal life
  • God’s favor

So with all that in mind, how would you answer the question now: Do you really want to hear what Wisdom has to say to you?

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