August 09, 2019

God and Money

Matthew 6:19-24

“No one can serve two masters. . . . You cannot serve both God and money.”

—  Matthew 6:24

Maybe you have heard that the Roman god of love was Venus, and the god of war was Mars. To many of us, those are just the names of a couple of planets. But to a Roman army, it was crucial to sacrifice to Mars and pray for victory before going into battle. And a young Roman man would pray to Venus that the woman who had stolen his heart would return his love.

Our historical memory is short, and most of us don’t know that the ancient Syrian god of wealth and prosperity was called Mammon. Jesus lived just across the border from Syria, and he knew about Mammon. This was a false god that represented the love of money and the material wealth and comforts and power it might buy. Jesus also knew that you cannot have any other god alongside the Creator of heaven and earth. That would be idolatry. Therefore, he said, “You cannot serve both God and Mammon.”

Idolatry always involves a different way of looking at the world and doing business. And gradually the idol takes over. Greed and worry—accompanying so much of the pursuit of prosperity today—replace the moral guidelines of the Bible, and calm trust in God’s blessing disappears along with them. Trampled human relationships and nervous breakdowns are sometimes signs that, somewhere along the line, serving Mammon has squeezed out serving God.

Who are you serving today?

Lord God, earning a living is an important part of our daily life. Help us to serve you alone, and to trust you for our daily bread. Amen.

About the author — George Young

George Young, a native New Yorker, worked as a taxi driver in New York City before studying to become a pastor. Then he, his wife Ruth, and their children were missionaries for many years in northeastern Japan. They worked with ministers and believers from the Reformed Church in Japan to spread the good news of salvation in Christ and ­establish new churches. Now George and Ruth are retired and live in the northeastern United States, nearer to their children and grandchildren.

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