Friday, November 21, 2008

Who's your Mammon

Yesterday I listened to a message by Pastor Elwin from New Hope Hawaii on Luke 16:13, "No servant 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."

He recently journaled on the very issue of mammon in his devotions earlier this month. Here is his journal in its entirety.

He says, "Today’s god of choice is Mammon, mammon masquerading as wealth. Mammon is making money the driving force for all our decisions, where we will live, what we will do for a career, what we will give our lives to. We are all susceptible to this if we think that the accumulation of money is the only definition for wealth."

"In many respects, we seem to rely on money to determine our sense of value, to define our level of success, to measure the extent of our happiness. It's money that we turn to in order to find comfort and security, albeit a false sense of security. And as the economy goes, so goes our finances and our degree of contentment. Everything that affects us, our emotions, our happiness, our sense of satisfaction, it seems, rises and falls on the condition of our finances."

The challenge is - How much is enough? One of the greatest lies we buy into is that we will reach a point when we have enough and therefore, feel secure about our financial future. So we keep aspiring for that elusive point.

I was fascinated to read a comment by Gerry Harvey this morning. This retail king, Gerry Harvey, has a personal fortune of $1.6 billion... not millions - but billions! Yet, as in an inrelated interview, here's what he said, "I still have a fear about going broke. I always think about it."

He has $1.6billion in the bank, and he always fears going broke!!!

Truth be told, I fear going broke (in varying degrees). Past financial hardships have meant I fear returning to that place of financial hardship. I want to avoid returning to that place as much as I can.

I think we all fear going broke - especially with the never-ending tide of news reports warning us of difficult financial times ahead.

That's the problem of putting our security in our finances - we fear going broke, and then in response to that fear, behave in certain ways: we become obsessive over any savings or current possessions, our priorities in life become more about cashflow than relationships, We're not as generous as we should be (even in the little things!). We take our eyes off the game then invest the best of our time, energy and worry in in a futile fight that we're never going to win.

Here's where the rubber meets the road - if I serve mammon (making wealth) over God, then I will never move past my fears, and therefore never live a life of abundance.

Serving God results in a life of abundance. Serving mammon results a life of oppression. No one can serve both. The bible also say he who tries to keep his life will lose it, but he who loses his life will surely gain it. This means that the more we try to hold onto the things of this world, the more we will fall away from our relationship with God, but when we seek God first in all aspects of our life, the more abundance God can add to our life!

Don't buy into the lie of the devil that 'if we just had a little more', we could serve God wholeheartedly. Merely accepting that proposition means we've given a little of our heart away to serving mammon.

Does that mean I don't have to be a good steward of finances? Absolutely not! It's a question of heart, not of the balance sheet. What is the greatest priority?

Here are some questions from Pastor Elwin to guage where we're our heart is at:

* How often do I worry about my finances;
* How often is money (rather than God or my family) the determining factor in decisions that I make;
* What is the degree of my grip on my possessions – do I struggle with making contributions of any kind to those in need;
* Do I have a good understanding of just how much is enough;

It's the decision we make every day that show where our priorities lie. What decisions will you make today?

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