Ruled by God or Mammon

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?

Simplifications

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

Reflecting Again

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.

There’s More

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.

Yesterday is Gone

The Beatles made a huge hit singing “Yesterday all my troubles seemed so far away”. And others waxed poetic about how “Yesterday’s gone” and how they remember “Yesterday when I was young” and so on.

Yesterday’s Hold

The reason “yesterday” has such a hold on people’s lives is that we all carry the past into the present and beyond that into the future. Yesterday is the time we sowed certain things into our lives and today we reap the harvest. So yesterday is a powerful component of ‘today’ and it will still be making its presence felt when we get to tomorrow.

The Catholic Church teaches people to go to confession to deal with the sins of yesterday. Someone sneered at the habit of some who sin during the week and look for forgiveness in the confessional on the weekend. They said it was like sowing wild oats all week and then praying for a crop failure.

The Hindu faith respects the baggage of yesterday as karma, which we carry not only through this life, but into future lives which Hindus believe they will face. Gautama Buddha, who rejected the Hindu teaching of reincarnation, went so far as to say that we cannot remove our Karma even in a thousand lifetimes.

Yesterday’s Debris

Here are just a few of the things we bring with from yesterday, even though yesterday is gone.

We bring our disappointments from yesterday. We face disappointments with others, such as our parents and family. But we also face disappointments with ourselves.

We bring our broken relationships from yesterday. Once we have offended someone else or they have offended us that damage remains, often throughout life. Family reunions and community life become tinged with the hurt and offence that we feel toward others and they feel toward us.

We bring our compromises from yesterday. Once we have compromised our values and character that becomes a weak spot for us from that time on.

We bring our slaveries from yesterday. When we give in to sin, such as anger, pride, jealousy or lust, that thing enslaves us and it controls us throughout our lives.

Today’s Harvest

It is also true, as the Bible teaches, that our actions and choices involve us sowing seeds in our lives. A seed not only remains, but it germinates and produces a whole crop. So when we sow something into our life, we are setting up a harvest in the future.

Today’s harvest is filled with the fruit of the things we planted yesterday. If we planted selfishness, pride, anger, greed, violence, self-pity, wilfulness, addiction, lies or other evil things, we will have an evil harvest today.

If we planted forgiveness, faith, love, trust, humility and the fear of God then we will have a much better harvest today than others might have.

Yesterday is not ‘Gone’

While the songs might say, “yesterday’s gone” it isn’t true. Yesterday has passed, but it has not ‘gone’. Yesterday lives with you today.

Just as yesterday’s piano lessons undergird today’s musicianship and yesterday’s studies undergird today’s understanding, yesterday’s moral choices undergird today’s character.

Transforming Yesterday

“You can’t go back in time” is one way to look at it. “What’s done is done!” might be your way of dismissing the past. But there are powerful ways of unlocking the past and transforming yesterday. Let me briefly outline two of them.

Confession of Sin is a powerful way to unlock and transform yesterday. When you repent of the choices you made in the past God is able to set you free from the debris and consequences of those choices in the present. You can actually get a crop failure, even though you sowed lots of wild oats.

God can go back in time. While you are stuck in the time-space continuum, God exists outside of time. So He is able to go back to your past and make Himself present, bringing healing to things that are part of your yesterday that has ‘gone’ from you.

A Testimony

A friend of mine named Malcolm visited a lady who had chronic problems. When he prayed for her she had a vision of a baby crying in a cot. She realised that she was seeing herself as a tiny baby. She sensed the extreme distress of the baby and it connected with the pain that kept surfacing in her life.

A spirit of intercession came on Mal and he began to weep for her. As he did she saw in her vision that the door to the baby’s room opened and Jesus walked in. Jesus lifted the baby into His arms and as He did the woman felt all her pain and torment drain from her life.

It was as if Jesus was able to go back in time to the entry point of the woman’s troubles and resolve them, even though that was now many years past.

Saying Good-bye to Yesterday

If yesterday has brought its bad baggage with it into your today then be encouraged to say “Good-bye” to that stuff. You can remove it forever by confession and by asking the Lord to unlock and heal your past.

The Steps to Release, which I have written about in my books and in other posts, will be helpful in this process.

I want you to live in the freedom with which Christ has made you free. I want you to be able to say, in all reality, that Yesterday is Gone! Keep all that is good from yesterday and unlock and remove all that is bad. Once you’ve said “Good-bye” to yesterday’s rubbish you will have an even better future to look forward to.

Marriage Basics

I recently enjoyed hearing Ron Strode in Melbourne. Ron is part of Worship Centre in Brisbane and he and his wife, Robyn, have a marriage counseling ministry. He gave his own assessment, gleaned from many years of helping marriages, as to why marriages fail. I’d like to share his insight with you.

You will recall that I have identified seven causes of marriage failure. If you missed that article do a quick search for that post. I point out that the principal destroyer of marriage is “Selfishness”. Let’s see how Ron’s insights mesh with mine.

Ron claims that the principal destroyer of marriages is that people focus on what they Don’t Have rather than what they Have!

An example Ron gave is that a man may wish his wife still had the same tricky figure she had when they married. The man may want his wife to still look as ‘hot’ as she did in her younger years. Here the man is focussed on what he Doesn’t Have, rather than what he has.

In that case, Ron points out, the wife may have given birth to six children and her body may struggle to maintain its youthful trim lines. The wife’s body has changed, but as a consequence of producing children. It is unreasonable for the man to demand that his wife maintain her figure, while also expecting her to give birth to a number of children over the years.

Similarly a wife may look at her husband and think he is not the same man she married. He is not romantic and affectionate like he used to be. She might then focus on what she Doesn’t Have, such as the on-going romantic relationship, rather than what she Does Have.

Ron pointed out that when his own marriage had become stale he was challenged to write a list of things about Robyn which were a delight to him. This is the list of benefits – the “Have” of their relationship. He came up with over 30 different things which were a blessing to him in his wife.

When he recognised his own heart becoming cold toward her, or taking her for granted, he would review that list of positives and be reminded of all the reasons he should be glad he married her.

Can you see a connection between Selfishness and what Ron has identified here? When a person thinks about what they don’t have, they are looking at the marriage selfishly. They are looking for what they want or lust after. They are making demands of the other person.

When a person is unselfish they are able to bless their spouse, not because the spouse gives them everything they want, or is the ideal spouse. They bless the spouse because that is their responsibility. They bless the spouse as an investment in their marriage and as an act of worship to God.

Selfish people can’t make that kind of investment. They may think they are SO special that others should invest in them, but not them in others. This is pride. It comes before destruction. It will destroy relationships.

Selfish people may be so addicted to lust, self-gratification or the like that they can only demand gratification, rather than being a blessing. Such enslaved people will destroy themselves and their relationships.

Try Ron’s suggestion. Make a list of the positives. Prayerfully ask God to open your heart and mind toward your spouse and to show you how to bless them. If your pride or lusts get in the way then realise you need deliverance, repentance and healing. Get spiritual help from a Bible believing, God-fearing pastor or ministry person who can bring you out of your own slavery.

If selfishness is your ultimate problem, then ask God to help you die to yourself. Learn to put yourself on the altar, take up your cross and live for God, not yourself.