While cleaning out some old article drafts, I discovered one that was written in February 2008. I never published the article, but I thought it’s contents were as relevant today as they were the day I wrote them.
There are 2 subjects that garner much debate within the church – money and sex. Most folks want more of both, and others think both will drive to straight to hell. I don’t subscribe to the theory that the poorer you are, the holier you are. In fact, I agree with Deuteronomy 8:18 – God allows us to gain wealth so that we can be the blessings to the nations that He has ordained us to be (in proper context, Moses was admonishing the children of Israel to remember God as our eternal Benefactor). I don’t agree, however, that God wants us to be wealthy so that we can horde all of our riches and seek Him for more while ignoring the needs of others.
Paul DID NOT say that money was the root of all evil…he said:
1 Timothy 6:10 (New American Standard Bible)
For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
Mammon is the personification of money worship and greedy pursuit. Money is simply a commodity of trade, but when it becomes an idol that is worshiped, coveted, and pursued with lust and desire, then it becomes mammon – and dangerous to anyone who possesses it. For centuries, the church – and specifically the black church – knew what to do with money. Our ancestors could squeeze a dollar until it hollered, and still have something left over to give to someone else.
But we began to subscribe to the “American dream” – the house with the white picket fence, 2.5 kids, and the Chevy in the driveway. We didn’t sway from the Word of God (per se), but we began to find comfort in seeking scriptures to justify our pursuit of material wealth – and we generally study those scriptures out of context. Thus, we invited the spirit of mammon into the church.
Again, there is nothing wrong with money – or material possessions. The problem is that we focus so much on “stuff” and take our eyes off of Him and His Kingdom, and then the spirit of mammon begins to have influence over our lives – even our worship. We praise God like we’re loosing our minds after we get the raise, but we moan and roll around on the alter when we’re not approved for the car loan. We go and lay hands on the house we want (because the “man of God” told us to do it), but we question God when we discover that our credit score is in the low 500’s.
The spirit of mammon fools you into thinking that you’ll walk in the same anointing as your “spiritual father” if you “sow” into his life. Of course, you want the Bentley, the large house, the jewelry, etc., so you believe the lie – when, in fact, all you’re doing is furnishing his opulent lifestyle.
The spirit of mammon would be rendered null and void if we didn’t feed it with our wanton greed. If we were passionate about the things of God vs. the stuff of the world, then that fowl spirit would die of hunger. As I’ve stated before – I like nice things, just like everybody else. I don’t, however, allow my desire for nice things to skew my vision – or my focus of advancing the Kingdom of God.
For many years, the story of the rich young ruler has been used in church to advocate the “poverty = holiness” lie, but if you explore the account in it’s entirety you’ll see what Jesus was really trying to say:
Matthew 19:16-30 (New American Standard Bible)
16 And someone came to Him and said, “Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?”
17 And He said to him, “Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.”
18 Then he said to Him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER; YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY; YOU SHALL NOT STEAL; YOU SHALL NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS;
19 HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER; and YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.”
20 The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept; what am I still lacking?”
21 Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
22 But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property.
23 And Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly I say to you, t is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.
24 Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
25 When the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, “Then who can be saved?”
26 And looking at them Jesus said to them, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
27 Then Peter said to Him, “Behold, we have left everything and followed You; what then will there be for us?”
28 And Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
29 “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name’s sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life.
30 “But many who are first will be last; and the last, first.
On its face, it appears as though Jesus was saying that rich people wouldn’t enter heaven. When you really explore the text, a more accurately analysis is that people who trust in their riches couldn’t enter heaven because they trust their wealth more than they trust their God. Theologians have suggested that since the disciples were businessmen before Jesus “drafted them”, they worried that they would suffer the same fate as the young ruler, but Jesus assured them that they’d regain anything they sacrificed for the advance of the Gospel.
Don’t allow the spirit of mammon to keep you from your eternal assignment. Enjoy the wealth that God has given you the ability to earn, but remember – it is a resource to help advance His Kingdom…it is not your primary source.