THE SERVANT GENERAL
SERVING GOD AND NOT MAMMON
November 10, 2012
Jesus warns us, “You cannot serve God and mammon.”
(Lk 16:13c). God makes absolute demands on us (to love Him
with our whole being), but money also is a demanding taskmaster.
Many people are enslaved by money and riches, and would literally
kill to have these. So Jesus tells us to choose. We cannot
have both. “No servant can serve two masters. He will
either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and
despise the other.” (Lk 16:13a-b).
we do need money in life, and money is actually God’s
provision for our material well-being. Money itself is neutral.
It is our posture toward money that will either bless or destroy
us. What then is the right posture toward money?
we are merely stewards of what belongs to God, including our
money. Money is “what belongs to another” (Lk
16:12). As such, we need to be trustworthy with the money
God entrusts to us. What does that mean? We use money for
God’s purposes and not our own. Of course God’s
purpose will also include our own material provision, as children
He generously provides for, but we need to look to the needs
of God’s work and the priorities of God’s Kingdom.
we must not trust in money or wealth. Jesus talks of “dishonest
wealth” (Lk 16:9). Literally this means “mammon
of iniquity.” According to the NAB footnote: “Mammon
is the Greek transliteration of a Hebrew or Aramaic word that
is usually explained as meaning ‘that in which one trusts.’
The characterization of this wealth as dishonest expresses
a tendency of wealth to lead one to dishonesty.” Again,
people steal, cheat, fight, maneuver, deceive and even kill
in order to have more money. As such, mammon stands in the
way of our walking the path of Jesus.
in order to assure that the desire for money does not take
hold of us, we must trust in what God intends for us, whether
sufficiency or great wealth, and not seek riches for its own
sake. We must be content with having the basics of life, looking
at more than that as already a bonus. Like Paul, we should
be able to say: “I know indeed how to live in humble
circumstances; I know also how to live with abundance. In
every circumstance and in all things I have learned the secret
of being well fed and of going hungry, or living in abundance
and of being in need.” (Phil 4:12).
while recognizing the dangers of money, we do not keep away
from it, but, as said above, we use money for the work of
the Kingdom. Jesus says, “I tell you, make friends for
yourselves with dishonest wealth” (Lk 16:9a). The work
of the Kingdom--salvation, helping the poor, promoting mission,
building resources for evangelization--is what constitutes
true wealth. If we are true stewards, and if we do not put
our trust in money, then God can use us, and our money, for
the work of His Kingdom. The converse of course is also true.
“If, therefore, you are not trustworthy with dishonest
wealth, who will trust you with true wealth?” (Lk 16:11).
as we use our (God’s) money not for ourselves but for
others and for the work of the Kingdom, we must trust that
we will never be deprived, that we will not need to do without.
God will take care of our needs. “My God will fully
supply whatever you need, in accord with his glorious riches
in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:19). The Master takes care
of His servants and stewards.
we must have faith that if we heed Jesus’ words, if
we fear the Lord and greatly delight in His commands (Ps 112:1),
if we can be trusted with money, then we will be blessed,
including financially. “Wealth and riches shall be in
their homes; their prosperity shall endure forever.”
(Ps 112:3). God indeed will entrust us with money, both for
our own personal needs and for the needs of the Kingdom, including
lavishly giving to the poor (Ps 112:9a).
when we share what we have with others, especially those in
need, then we will have more rather than less. We have less
money but more in the things that truly count. There is “profit
that accrues to (our) account” (Phil 4:17b). We will
be entrusted with true wealth (Lk 16:11b), that is, the work
of the Kingdom. And ultimately we will possess the Kingdom
itself, at the end of time, when we “will be welcomed
into eternal dwellings.” (Lk 16:9c).