THE CONCEPT OF MONEY
The fundamental concept of “money” is as a means of exchange. Money has been very helpful in simplifying several transactions that are necessary for earthly relationships. Before the advent of money, trade by barter was the only means of exchange available to man. This imposed numerous restrictions on the scope of transactions possible in doing business. But with money in circulation today in various forms, in cash and kind, nearly everything on earth can be traded.
However, money was born by sin. Buying and selling would have remained unnecessary and irrelevant all through the ages if man had not fallen into rebellion. The fall ushered man into a different life from the one when received from God. The original man was created in God’s image and likeness. The life man now possesses, after the fall, is corrupt. It is characterized by self-centeredness, personal ambition, greed, and pride. The spirit of passiveness that governs the lifestyle of fallen man makes it necessary for every person, or definable group of persons, to have their own. To effectively maintain the fallen lifestyle, self-determination is protected by the world as a fundamental human right.
Money is designed to enable the fallen man to prosecute a systematic life on earth without God. To reduce strife and wars to a measure, money was introduced by sinful man to manage the corrupt nature. The greed, impatience, pride, and lack of love in the fallen nature forbid man to sacrifice for another, to whom he is not indebted. Sinful man can only share out of what he does not need. Even then he carefully does it when and where he could gain some advantage. Sinful man cannot live in company with several others and be content to have all things common. He must have his own, care for his own and defend his own. Money is the basis of managing and administering the possessive nature of the fallen man, in order to suppress the strife and greed inherent in the fall.
Jesus spoke often about “Mammon” in connection with earthly wealth. But what actually is this “Mammon”? Is it just another name of money? A case in point is Matthew 6:19-24. Consider the following statement of Jesus:
“Lay not up for yourself treasures upon earth…
“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
“No man can serve two masters… Ye cannot serve God and Mammon.”
This reveals to us that mammon is an intelligent being that seeks to rule our lives. We discover here that mammon operates through earthly treasures or money. We can also see that its principal target is the heart of man. His work involves capturing the focus of a person’s heart in order to rule his life. The impression one gets from this profile on mammon is that of an invisible being that accompanies wealth, whose mission is to exploit the usefulness of money to lure hearts of men after it, and hence away from God. Mammon operates as a deceptive influence that accompanies money to give it an exaggerated air of importance.
In Luke 16: 1-13, Jesus is teaching on the subject of stewardship using the story of the unjust steward as an illustration. Towards the end, He says:
“If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?… No man can serve two masters… Ye cannot serve God and mammon”. Luke 16: 11, 13
Each time God entrusts you with earthly riches of any measure, this is an aspect of faithfulness. He is watching to prove in your life. Would you let mammon capture your heart? Will you allow your heart to become so engrossed with the glamour of wealth that you are willing to occasionally offend God in order to please mammon? Will you begin to meditate more on money than you do on God? Do you dwell more on opportunities to make money than on the ways to please God? This is the challenge to avoid becoming corrupt by the unrighteous mammon. Faithfulness calls for the grace in us to use money without becoming abused by money: the focus to possess wealth without becoming possessed and ruled by mammon. God vehemently abhors betrayal of trust. If we fail to prove our faithfulness to God when shining opportunities to make money are staring us in the face, God will relate cautiously with us. He will yet be watching us with suspicion. He cannot commit the true riches of eternity to such a life. So, you can see that mammon is a quiet working, but very devastating spoiler of our future in the hand of God.
The diabolical mission of mammon is to silently entice our hearts into trusting, loving and believing in wealth so that, rather than lean your heart in total dependence on God and look to Him for every supply, we begin to rely on the abilities of earthly wealth and to count on its help rather than on that of God. Every time we deal with money, we inevitably come under the temptation of mammon. To be ignorant of this truth is to be a cheap prey for the manipulation of the devil in matters of earthly riches.
As useful as money undeniably is in our present world and coming to us as a big relief as it often does, the mission behind money remains as evil as ever. We must always stay on guard. Mammon is simply the attractive, monetary face of the devil, which comes only to steal, to kill and to destroy.
HOW RICHES DECEIVE
The Lexicon Webster dictionary defines the verb “Deceive” as:
“To cause to believe what is false or disbelieve what is true, mislead; delude; to disappoint, with regard to hopes or expectations.”
And the noun “Deceit” is defined as:
“The act or practise of deceiving; concealment or perversion of the truth for the purpose of misleading; deception; fraud; cheating”
And the adjective “deceitful” has been defined as:
“full of deceit; given to deceiving; misleading, fraudulent; deceptive.”
Jesus says emphatically that earthly riches are deceitful. This first means that by nature money is characteristically dubious and insincere, and we must always hold it in doubt to be safe. Money is secretly sponsored, and we must always hold it in doubt to be safe. Money is secretly sponsored by the devil, who is the father of deception. Earthly wealth has a hidden evil agenda into which our hearts must avoid being drawn. Where then does the deceitfulness of riches seek to gain ground in our lives? It is in our hearts that, if the deception enters, our lives come under the oppression and control of the mammon of unrighteousness. These “thorns” do not grow on our hands to hinder the purpose of God in our lives. They grow in our hearts. Therefore, all we shall be sharing together concerns the heart. These issues are not particularly concerned with what we do but with motives and motivations behind our action. It is the heart we must focus our attention on, in order to genuinely touch and sort out “the deceitfulness of riches” in our lives. Would you permit God to weed out this specie of spiritual thorns out of your heart and thereby restore you on the path of spiritual fruitfulness in Christ Jesus? Then you must first undress in your heart. Remove all cover-ups of hypocrisy and pride. Open up in humility to the surgical knife of the Word of God to operate on your heart as we study further. Do permit God’s word to search out and to remove all traces of “the deceitfulness of riches” that may be hidden within.