No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. (Matthew 6:24 NASB)
What in the world is Mammon? Some translations just use money, and I guess that works, but there is more to it than just dollars and cents. My understanding is that this Greek word “mamōnas” actually starts out as an Aramaic word Mammon, coming from something close to “Amen” with a meaning of steadfast or stable – trustworthy.
The idea here is that Mammon is not just money, but the personification of a monetary system demanding your allegiance.
Perhaps an easier way for us to grasp it would be that Mammon is the spirit behind a system that trusts money.
Money is a necessary part of life on earth, and is amoral in itself. Mammon is not amoral, but requires your faith and service.
It is interesting to me that Jesus never warns of anything else positioning itself as our master. Jesus tell us more than once – you cannot serve God and Mammon, but never says, you cannot serve God and food, or God and sports – not even God and sex. All that is true by the way, but these gods don’t hold a candle to the mighty dollar.
So what are some tells of Mammon worship?
- Greed – the sin of the rich mammon worshipper
- Envy – the sin of the poor mammon worshipper
- Anxiety – the sin of the middle class mammon worshipper
- Hording - the sin of the old mammon worshipper
- Materialism – the sin of the young mammon worshipper
- Fear – the sin of all the mammon worshippers
Since mammon is a matter of spirit, not possession, the rich and poor alike fall prey to this wicked controlling spirit. The rich may be miserly, while the poor may be plagued with self-pity or worry. In the middle class it may take the form of entitlement.
The good news!
There is an antidote to the spirit of mammon, generosity! Kris Vallotton says when you sense a spiritual attack trying to draw you toward some evil end, just do the opposite. So when you sense a need to hold tight to your money – break the spirit of mammon by giving something away.
You say – but Brother Ben, I am broke! How can I be generous? Well look around. You may not have money, but you have something! If nothing else you have 24 hours every day that you get to spend. Could you give some of that away?
Be generous with everything you have. Jesus says “freely you have received, freely give.”
Tell me how it goes.