“No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon”. – Matthew 6:24
You cannot serve God And wealth (Mammon). Commanding us, not to be anxious for our food, drink, clothing or future, Christ asks us to trust God. The Gospel tells us that our lives are more than material things and that God cares for us.The word mammon comes from a word in Aramaic which simply means wealth or profit. Mammon was not the name of a deity in antiquity. Actually what we know about mammon is what Jesus told us about it. Jesus uses the name to denote a master of the heart of man, when that heart is consumed by self-interest and pride.
This is what makes his teaching so difficult for us today. We are part of society in which greed is covertly considered a good thing. No body says so too loudly but everyone knows it’s true. To a large extent capitalism is based upon the principle of self interest. As an economy model I do not know any other that surpasses capitalism. There is a danger when capitalism becomes the basis for the spiritual life, when self-interest is not only a necessary principle for free market but the foundation upon which our hearts are built. We derive our sense of identity and mission and value; the law of our personal, communal and spiritual life is founded on money. Economical success becomes equivalent in our minds to the blessing of the kingdom of God. Our sense of security derives from our wealth and not from our God. Then the leaven of greed leavens the whole lump; then the love of money rules over the use of money; then our trust is in money instead of God.
And that may be a very subtle virus. Wealth is very tricky. It seldom presents its ugly face directly unless taken by surprise. It has a very persuasive voice that easily appeals to our deepest yearnings. It promises pleasure, comfort, security, worldly glory, happiness and even goodness and blessing. It lures us to trust in it for our future, to justify our hardness of heart to others with all sorts of rationalizations. It promises all this if only we give it our unconditional allegiance by pursuing our own self-interest first in all we do, while we stop caring for our neighbors as ourselves and God above all things.
Money is the lord of self-interest, profit and wealth. And we say what is wrong with that? Every normal human being must have a degree of healthy self-interest and learn to fend for himself, pursue profit and wealth as much as he/she can. Yes, that is true. But there is a problem. Self-interest, profit and wealth are not the purpose God created us for. We were not made to serve things or ourselves. We were created to serve God, and self-interest, profit and wealth must be crucified with Christ – that is, brought to the service of God and not vice versa.
When how much we get defines how much our life is worth; when making money, because of its potential to satisfy our temporal needs, becomes the predominant purpose and preoccupation of our lives, we have fallen victims of slavery to money. The sad thing is that this may happen to us while we are not aware. As the Lord said: ‘Take heed, and keep yourselves from all covetousness’: We must take heed because there are many aspects of our lives that may be and have been under the influence of money for a long time.
Money forces us to worry trying to answer all questions regarding food, clothing, future, until we secure enough money when we won’t have to worry about anything, anymore. Worrying is exactly the opposite of that which the Lord tells us. The Lord clearly says ‘be not anxious about these things’. And that we cannot serve two Masters. So let us be honest with ourselves: Are we not anxious about these things? We often think that the only way for us to stop being anxious about such things is by working hard to secure a big stock of all of them, and then we can say to our soul, like the foolish rich man of the parable, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, be merry – Luke 12:19. But that night, God told him: ‘You foolish one, this night is your soul required of you; and the things which you has prepared, for whom shall they be?’ Luke 12:20
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