God and Money
Jesus used the Aramaic word "Mammon" which is a comprehensive word that includes all kinds of material possessions, money, and the money system, i.e. Materialism. Jesus says that Mammon is a "master"; i.e. He personifies it and considers it a sort of god or idol. Ellul (Money & Power) says that God as a person and Mammon as a person find themselves in conflict. Jesus describes our relation to both of them in the same way: it is the relationship of servant and master. Jesus is not describing a relationship between us and an object, but between us and active agents. Ellul says that when we claim to use money, we make a gross error. It is really money that uses us and makes us its servants by bringing us under its law and subordinating us to its aims.
Money creates the buying-selling relationship--everything in the world is paid for in one way or another. Likewise everything, in one way or another, can be bought, including human beings. Its most tangible forms are slavery and poverty. Poverty leads to the total alienation of the poor.
This alienation permits the wealthy in their power to impose their law and conception of life on the poor. It is this purchase of the person that corrupts the money relationship as described in Revelation:
The merchants of the world will weep and mourn over the fall of Babylon because no one can buy their goods anymoreľ-jewelry, linen, luxury items, etc., and the bodies and souls of men. (Rev 18:11, 13b)
People are thus seen as objects to be bought and sold not as people created in God's likeness.
if you love Money, you hate God; or if you love God, you hate Money. It is as simple as that.
Paul told Timothy that the love of money is a root of all evils. This is the context:
But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all evils. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. (I Timothy 6:6-10)
Paul goes on to say:
Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life. (I Timothy 6:17-19)
The apostle James, referring to this buying and selling relationship says:
Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered innocent men, who were not opposing you. (James 5:1-6)
A rich man who said he fully obeyed the law asked Jesus what good thing he must do to get eternal life. Jesus said:
Sell your possessions, give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come and follow me. (Mat 19:21)
As the young man left sadly because he had great wealth, Jesus said to His disciples:
It is hard for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.
It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter God's Kingdom. (Mat 19:23)
In the parable of the sower, Jesus listed three conditions where the seed of God's Word did not take root and bear fruit.
This is how Jesus described the seeds sown among thorns:
They hear God's word, but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth, and the desire for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. (Mark 4:3-8)
Continued on next page
More by Perry Bigelow
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- 13th Annual Affordable Comfort Conference
- 1st Annual National Green Building Conference
- Bibliography - Neighborhood Planning, Community & Ecology
- The Spirituality of Sustainability
- Stewardship of Creation
- God and Money
- Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger
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- Devotional - Listening to God Daily
- Bibliography for "God and Money" and "Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger"