Friday, June 17, 2011

Mammon Cannot Serve You

On Saturday morning I was praying through Psalm 27, asking God to give me confidence in him so that I'd trust him alone when fears and worries arise. What I didn't expect was that God would, during that time, bring me face to face with one of those worries! Someday if/when Olivia and I have children, we'd ideally like to have her stay home to raise the kids. But whenever I think about the extra cost of children on half the income, all I think about is how this is impossible. How difficult it would be to afford appropriate housing, medical care, food, education, and the like! (And I can kiss graduate school goodbye, too, or so my mental logic tells me.)

But as I prayed, it dawned upon me (through the Spirit of God, no doubt) that if I fretted over how difficult it would be to have such provisions due to a lack of money, I wasn't trusting or looking to God to be our provider. I was hoping in Money itself to provide all these things. And money isn't the living God. It's simply a piece of woven fabric and paper, or a nugget of metal, or a series of binary ones and zeroes in an electronic file in cyberspace. Of course I had reason to worry! Since when could a hundred-dollar bill ever hear my prayers or make dinner or otherwise act on my behalf?

Jesus says, "You cannot serve both God and Money [Greek Mammon, a personification of wealth as a deity]" (Matt. 6:24). But it's also true that Mammon cannot serve you, either. It is a worthless, lifeless, vain thing--made by human hands and obtained only through hours of hard labor! "You will always be running scared," warns Ed Welch, "if you worship other gods, because idols can't deliver on their promises" (Running Scared, p. 176).

Even long before this, the prophet Jeremiah explained to the people of Judah the errors of trusting in anything other than God for their provision (Jer. 9:23-10:16).

Thus says the LORD: "Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD."

Riches or wisdom or power aren't living, active things to trust in for blessing and security. Only knowing the living, almighty God as Father, Shepherd, King, who relates to you in his constant "steadfast love, justice, and righteousness" is a source of rest and boasting. Trusting in anything else is a foolish form of idolatry. Idols (such as money) are simply products of human craft , and as such, they are impotent (Jer. 10:1-5, 8-9, 15). "Do not be afraid of them, for they cannot do evil, neither is it in them to do good" (v. 5). Despite what our everyday experiences tell us, money is absolutely powerless on its own to bring us any good. So why worry about how much of it you have?

What matters is whether or not, through faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we have God on our side.

But the LORD is the true God;
he is the living God and the everlasting King.
At his wrath the earth quakes,
and the nations cannot endure his indignation.

It is he who made the earth by his power,
who established the world by his wisdom,
and by his understanding stretched out the heavens. (Jeremiah 10:10, 12)

It is not an inanimate object, but a Person, who secures your future, someone you can know and who relates to you in love and concern. If such a God is your God through faith in Jesus, you have a God who hears your prayers and knows your every need. You have a God who speaks to you (Jer. 10:1). You have a God who is wise enough to order and direct the entire cosmos, your life included. You have a God who can count every star in the sky and every hair on your head. You have a God mighty enough to stretch out the heavens and to also carry your burdens (Isaiah 46:3-4). And you have a God who "practices steadfast love" (Jer. 9:24) on your behalf. This is the great hope of those in Christ.

No comments: