What I address here might be a revolutionary eye-opener to you. I trust it opens the Bible to you in a fresh way. Many Bible truths take on a completely new complexion when considered in a fresh context. My post about the Bible being a Book of Books hinted at some of the possibilities that open to us when we see the Bible in a fresh context and with sharper application. To help me get where I want to go, allow me to present a few basic premises from which to work.
You Are Ruled
Whether you like the idea or not your whole life is being ruled by someone other than yourself. Obviously you have a high level of personal autonomy within the bounds set by your sovereign, but you are ruled none-the-less.
You are either ruled by truth or deception; confidence or fear; love or hate; and so on. But for the purposes of this discussion you are either ruled by God or Mammon.
God or Mammon
The Bible affirms that you are ruled and identifies the two masters who you can choose between. They are God and Mammon.
“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” Jesus Christ, Matthew 6:24
In the original language the meaning could be taken to be, “No person has the power to serve two lords…. You do not have the power to serve God and the power of wealth.”
Note that the Old Testament prophets warned Israel about worshiping such gods as Baal and Ashtaroth. When Jesus came He did not speak of these gods, but embodied all other competitors to Almighty God under the title of Mammon.
You Are Ruled by the One you Serve
Another way of understanding what Jesus taught is that you are “ruled” by the one you serve. The Apostle Paul said that we are enslaved to the thing we serve.
“Don’t you know that to whom you yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants you are to whom you obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” Romans 6:16
So you are ruled either by God or by Mammon.
What is Mammon?
Since there is a 50:50 chance you are ruled by Mammon it might be good to know what it is. Mammon is a Chaldean word. It is a word that came from the heathen people around the nation of Israel. It apparently refers to a deity and the root meaning of the word is: “confidence”; “wealth personified”; and “avarice” (which is greed).
What Mammon refers to, when opposed to the person of God, is the power of wealth.
Time to Reflect
Take a moment to ponder the following question. If everyone in the world is either ruled by God or Wealth, what would be the indicators to identify each one?
How would you tell if someone was ruled by God? How would you tell if someone was ruled by money?
And to take the reflection further, does the evidence suggest that you are ruled by God or Money? What about your family, community and culture? Which deity is ruling over them?
I love to simplify things so they are easy to understand, easy to remember and easy to teach. While simplifications involve reductionism which can remove key information from the topic, they do allow an easy grasp and a ready starting point for further investigation. So allow me to make some simple observations.
The simplified point I have already made is that you are either ruled by God or Money. The next observation is that God’s rule demands that we live for others. Consider these instructions from God to love others and to do to others what you want them to do to you.
“You are to love your neighbour as yourself” Leviticus 19:18, Mark 12:31
“A new commandment I give you, That you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” John 13:34
“Therefore all things whatsoever you would that men should do to you, do you even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” Matthew 7:12
Mammon stands contrary to God’s standards and involves people living for self and personal gain. This causes people to live in pride, directed by their greed and lusts.
“For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” 1John 2:16
So do you live for self or for others? Does your family and culture promote selflessness or self-gratification?
If the focus is on self, then Mammon is the master. If the focus is on selflessness, living to be a blessing to others, then God is the master.
It’s time you made sure you are in the right kingdom. Repent of self interest and self serving attitudes and values. Ask God to transform you until you can live for others and not self.
I started out intending to discuss the Bible and its value on political topics. Hmmm. I think I’ve made a pretty good fist of this posting, without getting where I want to go. So I’ll make a point in the near future of picking up the theme of the Bible as a Political Text.