Serving God or Mammon?

Matthew 6:24 (ESV)
24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.

Someone once told me about the money-making scheme. As he was telling me about the scheme, I could sense where his heart lies so I gently told him not to get too attached to money.

“But I like money,” he replied. “Doesn’t God want to prosper us and grow wealth?”

Money by itself is neither good nor bad. But what matters is our attitude toward money. Are we putting money first before everything else? Or do we put God and relationships first before money. Where do we place our faith in? God or money?

Money buys us food, material goods, house, medicine, etc… It’s not much of a leap for a person to start viewing money as something that gives them security and rest from troubles. And it’s not difficult for people to start loving money for they see that it gives them many things in life. But money only offers us false security and satisfaction. It’s easy to forget who the TRUE PROVIDER is especially when money buys us shelter, food and our basic needs. Remember God gave a habitable planet for us to live, not too far nor too close to the sun. He also created animals and plants for us to eat. God created the materials that allowed us to build shelter!

God has provided many things in our lives, many things we might not realize right away. Remember how God provided heavenly manna and water for the wandering Israelites in the desert wilderness? Fed Elijah in time of famine? Forewarned Joseph to store up grains for seven years of famine? The Bible lists so many examples of how God supernaturally provided for His children in time of need! The scripture mentioned below tells us not to worry too much about our life –

Matthew 6:25-33 (ESV)
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Sadly, love of money and greed pervades almost everywhere in our society (at least here in America). Mammon reign as a powerful stronghold in many lives in this country. Here are few examples how it pervades everyday lives –

There are people playing lottery or gambling in hope of striking it rich, falling for money-related scams, trampling others in order to advance their own career, stealing, and engaging in fraud. Corrupt politicians accepting bribes or contributions in exchange for granting favors to their benefactors. Criminals blackmailing others’ dark secret for financial gain. Wealthy financiers exploiting cheap labors, ‘starving’ their workers while fattening themselves up. Monetary interest and usury everywhere we go. Pastors favoring the more generous contributors than those who don’t contribute. The list goes on and on.

Greed and the love of the money tie all of these together. The scripture says that love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. How those people are deceived into thinking that they are masters over money while the money is truly a merciless master over them!

1 Timothy 6:9-10 (ESV)
But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

These people place their hope in money to provide them security and to be free from worries. The thinking is, “Only if I had a million dollars, then I wouldn’t have to worry about paying bills, medicine, etc..” or “Finally, I can buy some fancy houses, car, etc..” or “Money would solve our problems.”

But that kind of thinking reveals their faith is placed in money. They are attempting to seek satisfaction and security from money.

Our faith should be placed in God instead! Christ can only offer us true satisfaction and peace. He alone can satisfy our soul even as we face trials and tribulations on earth. God is the Creator of the heaven and earth. He provided everything for us to enjoy. God wants us to have faith in HIM, not in money to provide for us. There is no way we can have faith in both money and God. We will either pick one over the other. Where will our faith lies? God or money?

Think about this, isn’t it wiser to depend on living God who can provide for everything we need in our life? Let us be content with what God gave us.

Some additional scripture on money –

Proverb 23:5 (NIV)
5 Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone,
for they will surely sprout wings
and fly off to the sky like an eagle.

Hebrews 13:5 (ESV)
Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

1 Timothy 6:17-19 (ESV)
17 As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.

Proverbs 22:16 (ESV)
16 Whoever oppresses the poor to increase his own wealth,
    or gives to the rich, will only come to poverty.

Philippians 4:11-13 (ESV)
11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

James 5:1-6 (ESV)
Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days. Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the righteous person. He does not resist you.

Depending on Each Other

God has showed me big time how His children are interdependent on each other and how our actions have a ripple effect upon others. I want to share a story with you. There were two brothers in Christ and they had a good fellowship for a while. God had been speaking powerfully through this ministering brother and thus helping ministering to the learning brother who was continuously learning. At times, the learning brother would speak something but didn’t realize it came from God. This spoken word also helped the ministering brother!! One day, the ministering brother was in a serious trouble. The landlord was going to evict him and his family. He tried everything to avoid being evicted, and had no one to ask for help. But God finally put the learning brother onto his heart, so the ministering brother hesitantly asked the learning brother to help them make the rent payment. The learning brother, out of compassion and love, decided to help the ministering brother out. I thought this was a good example of how when one member has a lack and those who have enough are able to help. This can work both ways for all of us have different gifting, supplies, personality, etc…

Maybe one person isn’t good at speaking with people for spreading God’s word, but is really good at showing hospitality and helping others. Or maybe someone is really good at praying for others but not skilled with giving. That’s okay! Everyone has a different role to play!! And also there’s always a room for growth/improvement in our weakness. In other word, we could keep on practicing what we’re not good at. The main thing is that we allow Christ’s LOVE to grow within us and to be able allow that to shine for others to see. We are the living witness to Christ’s LOVE and hope to be that light for other people to see. I pray that we are able to bring people to Christ through our actions and varied gifts. If you’re not sure what kind of gift you have, you can always ask God about it =) and you can also ask God to give you spiritual gifts if you desire so!!

I wanted to share this powerful phrase with you –

I believe humility allows you to open up your heart more so you can receive more love from others and God.

Think about what this means in practical sense.

First, let’s look at it from opposite angle.
Pride says, “I don’t need anyone. I am my own man. I don’t need handouts or help from anyone else, if anything I will be the one helping others.” Even the intention is to do good (helping others, etc..), the intention is still infected with prideful thinking. Pride focuses on protecting their own dignity, their own image. By not accepting help from anyone, they are denying others the opportunity to share their love.

Yet when we open up our vulnerability and heart to others, we are allowing others the OPPORTUNITY to pour their love into our hearts. I realize not all will pour love, but at least we open up for those who want to share their love!

Seeing how interdependent we can be, we must also be aware how our actions can have a ripple effect on others, for either better or worse. It does have an impact beyond what we can see! Even the smallest action. Consider the story of two brothers I just mentioned a little bit earlier. The ministering brother was humbled and felt an incredible sense of love/support from the learning brother for the love of Christ was shining through him. It made an impact on both of the brothers for they learned from the whole experience and allowed God’s love to grow more within themselves! I realize being the imperfect being we are, we won’t always succeed in doing good. But remember, what is impossible with man is possible with God. So then, having the love of Christ in our hearts, we hope to allow it shine brightly for others to see and to share His love boldly.

1 Corinthians 12:4-26 (ESV)
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.

12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

Genesis 2:18-24 (ESV)
18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 19 Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said,

“This at last is bone of my bones
    and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
    because she was taken out of Man.”

24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.