The amazing Luke 16:1-13 ends with a warning from Jesus: You cannot serve God and money.
(Money translates the word ‘mammon’. Some Bibles, including the King James Bible, opt to give us the original Greek word.)
If we serve money, what will that look like? It will see us look to money for the good things that come from God. It will see us honour money in a parody of the way we should honour God. Here are some examples.
When we serve money, we are disciples and money is our teacher. Money instructs us about what is right and wrong. Money teaches where true value lies (higher pay equals more important)
When we serve money, we are motivated to honour money. Aggressive haggling is not embarrassing, because we save money. We will live at a standard that reflects our income – why would someone live ‘as if’ they were on $50 000 when they really earn $100 000?
- Life and death
When we serve money, it’s a matter of life and death. Changes in regulation may be relatively minor, but are celebrated/mourned out of all proportion (most interest rate changes, for example). If we miss the deal or the job or the pay rise, we’re despondent
When we serve money, it’s money that provides forgiveness. Money provides the excuse for our behaviour (‘I said that to her because she was trying to rip me off,’ ‘I can’t give anything away for the hungry now, because I’d have to stop Freda’s flugelhorn lessons’)
In every case, these areas should be full of Jesus. Jesus is the Rabbi, we should learn from him (Matthew 11:29). The motivation and direction for living is Jesus, who is and alive and exalted and presently ruling all things (Colossians 3:1-2). In Jesus is life, life for anyone who trusts him (John 1:4). Jesus uniquely died to forgive sins (Ephesians 1:7), so any other promise of forgiveness is a lie
I’m sure we could make the list even longer. Please jump in to the comments and include more examples. I’d love to read what you have to say.
This all should change us, of course, if we trust Jesus as Lord. So I’ll end with a question to test ourselves: in what ways are we treating money as if it were a god?