There are several messages in this section of scripture and I will cover only one aspect at this time. Quite a few times I have written about the need to get your priorities right. When Jesus taught this message that you cannot serve God and mammon, he was saying it again, but with a twist. There is an even stronger message than just priorities contained in this section of scripture and to enter God’s kingdom it is a lesson we need to learn.
Most people are familiar with those who suffer addiction of one kind or another. Some of you may have been addicted to things yourself and still battle the monsters within. Consider those who are addicted to nicotine, drugs, alcohol, gambling, pornography or anything else. They all suffer from their addictions and cannot find the victory over those things.
But aside from the obvious damage being done by the addiction, they cannot break the mental attachment to whatever they are addicted to. Their minds are not set on what they should be but they are overpowered by the emotions and desires of their addiction.
The addiction is their master and they serve it whether they want to or not. The focus of the drug addict is where to get the next fix. The focus of the alcoholic is where to get the next drink. And just check out how smokers react when kept away from nicotine for any length of time.
All those who are addicted to anything are the slaves of those addictions. They are subservient to the addiction and will do whatever is necessary to feed the addiction and take away the craving.
The Destruction of Addiction
So what about everything else they need to do? What about families, friends, work and so on? Everything becomes a poor second or third place to feeding their addiction.
It is the same for those addicted to money, wealth or power. Jesus said you cannot serve God and mammon, mammon being a Semitic word for wealth or riches. If you are addicted to mammon then it is that which rules your life. Everything else is a poor second place. You will chase after the pot of gold and put everything else in subservience to making money.
It is an addiction that affects a great part of Western society, and unfortunately has tainted the modern church too. The wealth ministry preached by some people is not of God for money is not of God. Sure the Lord knows we need money to live, but when it becomes our focus, or worse yet our number one priority, then we do not and cannot serve the Lord wholeheartedly. We become rules by the desire for wealth to somehow prove that Christ is with us, according to those who promote this wealth ministry.
Well, that is not what Jesus taught. In fact he taught that it will be hard for the rich to enter the kingdom of God. (Matthew 19:23) And those who follow such ministry as the wealth ministry fall into a snare and a trap for their focus is not on serving God but on serving mammon. And as the title says, “You cannot serve God and mammon.”
Chasing wealth as a Christian will take you away from God. At some point there will be a decision needed to go one way or the other, and if you are serving mammon, you will not choose God.
God knows that you need to live. You need food, clothing, shelter and so on and he has promised to provide all the things we need. (Matthew 6:31-34) He does not and did not promise wealth in this world for the true riches of Christianity are not in currency or possessions, but are in righteousness, truth, joy, peace and the revelations of the Lord.
You cannot serve God and mammon so you need to make a choice. Peter wrote, “Whatever overcomes a man, to that he is enslaved.” (2 Peter 2:19) If you are enslaved to mammon or anything else it is time to choose where your true wealth lies. The wealth of this world is temporary. It is destroyed by inflation, thieves, moths and rust and can be taken away by governments if they want it. It is transitory and will not provide for anything in terms of your eternal salvation.
The only choice that has a future is to choose Jesus and turn away from seeking the things of this world. The Lord has said that he will not leave us destitute but will bless us with all we need when we seek his kingdom as first priority. And as King David wrote, “I have been young, and now am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging bread. He is ever giving liberally and lending, and his children become a blessing.” (Psalm 37:25-26)
So how do you overcome addictions and especially the addiction and craving for mammon? Seek the Lord first. Serve him first. Whenever anything else arises that may take you away, seek Jesus first. If there is a choice to make, choose Jesus. Learn about walking in the Spirit for by so doing you can gain the victory over the flesh, not by your own strength, but by the power of God. Pray when you are tempted and the Lord will give you release. In everything you do, put the Lord first and allow him to lead you so that your path is right and true and you follow Jesus.
(Photo sourced from stock.xchng www.sxc.hu/ taken by Gregor Buir)
You might also like:
Read the section on walking in the Spirit in this eBook: The Foundation Teachings of Christianity
Hard For A Rich Man To Enter The Kingdom Of Heaven
Seek First the Kingdom of God and Other Teachings
What Does It Profit To Gain The World And Forfeit Your Life
Wealth Will Not Make You Secure