Mammon Riches

Today’s word is another Aramaic term: Mammon (Μαμωνάς, Mamōnás), meaning money, riches EN (riquiezas ES, bogatii RO). It shows up four times in the N.T. Here’s one instance:

No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon (Luke 16:13 KJV; also Matt 6:24; Luke 16:9; Luke 16:11).

Modern versions often render the word as money. That’s good, for the sake of clarity. Yet perhaps Mammon was better — identifying or even personifying this important word. Especially since we are awash in a culture that is not only saturated with materialism, but which even worships money. Money is a marker of success, worth, and (in some religious circles) God’s blessing.

Yet our true “net worth” is our worth in the Lord’s eyes as persons who bear his image and our objects of his live. Further, real success is measured by the extent to which our character is Christ-like — and by that influence on others. And the “health & wealth” teachers not only misrepresent God’s word, but poison people’s faith. With these truths in mind, let’s conclude our short study with a few challenges:

  • Challenges for us in the west:
    • Stop making excuses about how much we “have to” work — in order to support our affluent lifestyles. We all make choices, characterized by such things as:
      • Shelling out for massive homes, multiple vehicles, and expensive entertainment paraphernalia
      • Buying into the media’s liberal “values”
      • Spending hours every week in pleasure-focused pursuits, and then
      • Working out clever rationalizations to justify ourselves (Luke 16:14-15), while the world is as lost as ever and yet we aren’t striving to rescue the perishing (Prov 24:11-12; Amos 6:1-6).
      • Comfy retirement plans — Do we ever “retire” from the Lord’s will?
    • Determine not to value wealth in itself, regarding it rather as a mere tool for doing good in the world.
  • Challenges for those in the developing world:
    • Don’t be lured away from pure discipleship by “the American dream.” It’s not what you think.
    • Use your education to make a difference in your home country — which usually means not emigrating to the west.
  • Challenges for all of us:
    • Evaluate critically the non-stop messages bombarding us from Hollywood, Wall Street, and Madison Avenue (the pursuit of pleasure, costing us our money, suggested and then reinforced by advertising)
    • Study the scriptures, especially those books of the Bible that reveal what God has to say about money, greed, and generosity (like Proverbs and Luke).

Indeed, Mammon is alive and well. So watch out! (Luke 12:15; 8:14; 1 Pet 5:8)

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