God and Mammon

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God and Mammon

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Christ said clearly, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24 Matthew 6:24No man 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. You cannot serve God and mammon.
American King James Version×
). What was Jesus Christ talking about?

When I was around 26 or 27 years old and had no master, I did whatever I wanted—good or bad. The Beatles had become a powerful influence in the world; and they were, in turn, influenced by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. For $25, any person could be initiated into their following. If you really liked it, you, too, could be trained to become an initiator. You could “turn on” others without drugs.

Much time has passed for me, and much water has passed under that particular bridge. Now I look back with experience, insight and concern for others. I am perfectly aware that serving mammon can result in monetary success. I know that some succeed honestly, some don’t succeed at all and others cheat their way to riches. In many publications we can read about the few who succeed honestly, share that success with others and then call this God’s Blessing. This looks like a good thing. But does achieving monetary success, even achieving it God’s Way—the Way of Give—equate to real success?

Now I look back with experience, insight and concern for others. I am perfectly aware that serving mammon can result in monetary success.

I believe that Jesus Christ was confronting this concept when He stated, “No one can serve two masters.” We need to ponder His statement. Real success (to me) is knowing the true God and having the faith and knowledge that They—both the Father and the Son—are Master. This also includes knowing that we can also be the Father’s children, (that is, Jesus’ brothers and sisters). We have a family relationship that transcends all other relationships—and They will not leave us hanging! That is why I will not serve any other master.

My wife read this and said to me that it seemed to her that I was saying that people shouldn’t work—which I am not. The apostle Paul said that if you’re capable of working and don’t (that is, don’t earn money), then you should not eat (2 Thessalonians 3:10 2 Thessalonians 3:10For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.
American King James Version×
). I agree with him. That said, earning money is different from “serving mammon,” as serving implies that it is the master.

According to Webster’s College Edition Dictionary, mammon is the false god of riches and avarice. If you are consumed by a desire to obtain wealth—even if you say that you simply want to help others with your wealth—you are serving mammon and fooling yourself.

How is it that people do not heed this warning? Look to the parable of the sower (Matthew 13:1-23 Matthew 13:1-23 [1] The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side. [2] And great multitudes were gathered together to him, so that he went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore. [3] And he spoke many things to them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow; [4] And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: [5] Some fell on stony places, where they had not much earth: and immediately they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: [6] And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. [7] And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: [8] But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundred times, some sixty times, some thirty times. [9] Who has ears to hear, let him hear. [10] And the disciples came, and said to him, Why speak you to them in parables? [11] He answered and said to them, Because it is given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. [12] For whoever has, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whoever has not, from him shall be taken away even that he has. [13] Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. [14] And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which said, By hearing you shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing you shall see, and shall not perceive: [15] For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. [16] But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. [17] For truly I say to you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which you see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which you hear, and have not heard them. [18] Hear you therefore the parable of the sower. [19] When any one hears the word of the kingdom, and understands it not, then comes the wicked one, and catches away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side. [20] But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that hears the word, and immediately with joy receives it; [21] Yet has he not root in himself, but endures for a while: for when tribulation or persecution rises because of the word, by and by he is offended. [22] He also that received seed among the thorns is he that hears the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful. [23] But he that received seed into the good ground is he that hears the word, and understands it; which also bears fruit, and brings forth, some an hundred times, some sixty, some thirty.
American King James Version×
; Mark 4:1-20 Mark 4:1-20 [1] And he began again to teach by the sea side: and there was gathered to him a great multitude, so that he entered into a ship, and sat in the sea; and the whole multitude was by the sea on the land. [2] And he taught them many things by parables, and said to them in his doctrine, [3] Listen; Behold, there went out a sower to sow: [4] And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up. [5] And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth: [6] But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. [7] And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit. [8] And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred. [9] And he said to them, He that has ears to hear, let him hear. [10] And when he was alone, they that were about him with the twelve asked of him the parable. [11] And he said to them, To you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but to them that are without, all these things are done in parables: [12] That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them. [13] And he said to them, Know you not this parable? and how then will you know all parables? [14] The sower sows the word. [15] And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan comes immediately, and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts. [16] And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; [17] And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution rises for the word's sake, immediately they are offended. [18] And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, [19] And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. [20] And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirty times, some sixty, and some an hundred.
American King James Version×
; Luke 8:1-15 Luke 8:1-15 [1] And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and showing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him, [2] And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils, [3] And Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered to him of their substance. [4] And when much people were gathered together, and were come to him out of every city, he spoke by a parable: [5] A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. [6] And some fell on a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. [7] And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it. [8] And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bore fruit an hundred times. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that has ears to hear, let him hear. [9] And his disciples asked him, saying, What might this parable be? [10] And he said, To you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand. [11] Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. [12] Those by the way side are they that hear; then comes the devil, and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. [13] They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. [14] And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. [15] But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.
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). Jesus took some time to thoroughly explain the various shades of response possible.

To summarize the parable, not everyone hears the message. Even those who are privileged to hear don’t all hear the same meaning. Some respond not at all, others only for a while, and some respond powerfully and are steadfast to the end.

As the aging process occurs, I remember several youthful desires that were faulty and resulted in less than truly successful outcomes.

As the aging process occurs, I remember several youthful desires that were faulty and resulted in less than truly successful outcomes. I will not serve that phony master again, even though the world sees it as success. I want real success.

God has given me—and gives me still—every good thing that I need. What I want most right now is to daily serve my Master, God, both Father and Son. I want to serve Them for the rest of my life. “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33 Matthew 6:33But seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.
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).

“He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” (Matthew 13:9 Matthew 13:9Who has ears to hear, let him hear.
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).