But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. (1 Timothy 6:6-11)
An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money. (1 Timothy 3:2-3)
Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, "I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you," so that we confidently say, "The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. what will man do to me?" (Hebrews 13:5-6)
No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. (Luke 16:13 NKJV)
Money in and of itself is neutral. But there is a spirit closely connected to the use of money called Mammon, a supernatural force, a counterfeit deity that insinuates itself into the mind and heart of those who get trapped by the enticement of wealth. It can easily infect any person if they are not very much on guard against the ways and sentiments of this world that is saturated by this fallen spirit.
This spirit is a very subtle force that can easily be overlooked and can even take on a very religious appearance. But to the sincere who desire to live in God's presence and operate only by His principles, there are clues and symptoms than can act as alerts so that one can avoid falling into this trap of the enemy. These clues are meant to alert us as to the condition of our spirit. So to discern these clues a person has to become both cognizant of the condition of their own spirit as well as be humble and honest enough to admit when their spirit is out of harmony with the Spirit of Jesus.
When the Word tells us that all sorts of evil can be produced by a love of money, it is exactly accurate. Evil comes in many different forms, many of them not seen as such by the vast majority. Obvious there can be forms of evil can readily be seen as linked to the spirit of Mammon. But the same motives can work inside many who promote themselves as being servants of God and champions for His cause. That is why it is so important to learn how to detect this subtle spirit of Mammon and not be fooled by diversions or arguments meant to obscure what is really going on at the heart level.
Our desire to have more money is often only a surface symptom of problems or faulty thinking at a much deeper level of our motivation. Money usually carries with it a sense of power and control. We believe that those with more money can use their superior monetary resources to leverage themselves to manipulate others and to acquire for themselves things or privileges that will bring them happiness and satisfaction or make them more admired by others. Yet all of these things are linked to much deeper needs of the human heart, needs that must be met for us to feel healthy, content, whole and at peace. We have been led to believe that if our cravings are met in certain ways as defined by our culture, that we will find the satisfaction that our deepest souls crave to experience. And generally it is money that we assume must be involved in achieving those desires.
Money itself is an intermediary, an exchange mechanism invented to act as a buffer for many of our interactions with others. Money and currency is an invention by which we can acquire things we desire in exchange for 'promises' (the meaning of currency using promissory notes) that in turn can be used for the recipient to get whatever it is they desire. Instead of dealing directly with others by exchanging services of things we value directly with another person, we use currency as an artificial liquidator that is supposed to be readily usable to go to another source and exchange it for what we want or need.
There are many facets to this that need to be understood to make more sense of it all. But underlying the whole system of worldly economics and currency is the principle of selfishness. The spirit of Mammon if anything is a spirit of pervasive selfishness made more efficient through the use of artificial monetary exchange mechanisms. The use of currency also subjects us immediately to the complicating factor of inflation and deflation which in turn are also fueled by the spirit of selfishness.
Currency and economics circulate around the central core of selfish desire which is opposite to the system of the kingdom of heaven. Those in power that produce currency to start with do so with intent to exercise control over all who use that currency.
There are some who are aware of the desperate condition of currency today and realize that nearly all currencies in the world have no foundation on anything of real worth. These are very alarmed at the future of this fragile system of fraud, a rightly so. The American economic system as it stands today is completely dependent on keeping as many people as possible in the dark about the true worthlessness of this currency so that their blind and ignorant trust in the system will keep the dollar circulating freely even though it has no substantive value. Thus those in control can continue to 'print' more and more money for their own purposes while they can manipulate its distribution to exploit others.
Likewise, people in other parts of the currency circulation exploit others in various ways through manipulation using this worthless money. Greed is an addiction that is formed by craving the apparent power over others through the enticement of wealth. Ironically this greed can be just as rampant among the poor as in the rich. And because most people are deceived by this mindset of total dependence on currency to function in life, those with money use it to purchase from others what they want even if it involves compromising the morals or subjecting people to exploitation and abuse.
In all of our dealings with others involving money, we are compelled to make value judgments about things and people all the time. Thus the whole system flies in the face of warnings by Jesus to not judge lest we be judged ourselves. I know that for years I have wrestled with the issue of how much to charge others for work I do for them, for there are so many variables that need to be taken into account. I am supposed to estimate the assumed value of my own services along with the personal financial needs that I have. At the same time I also feel compelled to take into account the financial situation of the people I am working for, which is not generally something many people feel obliged to consider. But all of this comparison and artificial evaluation that is required to deal in currency tends to pull me away from living the kind of selfless, uninhibited kind of life that was glimpsed in the community of early New Testament believers. What I see there are people who were learning to live in the ways of heaven while successfully resisting for some time the infiltration of the spirit of Mammon.
Over time though, that spirit of the world crept back into the lives of the believers and within a few generations nearly all traces of that rare spirit of transparent and joyful living faded and became nearly extinct. Nonetheless it is still that spirit of mutual love, care and selflessness that God is calling all of His children to experience within His body a spirit that is in stark contrast with the spirit of Mammon.
Mammon is the name of an ancient god of the Near-East that was known to people in the times of the Bible. It was the greatest god that was considered behind the systems of economics which itself is one of the three foundational legs of Satan's counterfeit system we call civilization. But that is another study altogether. I will just mention here that the whole system of artificial valuation required by economics to make it function is foreign to the kind of relating that heaven invites us to enjoy. The kingdom of heaven is not like the kingdoms of this earth and we must learn to be more aware of the differences so that we do not remain deceived and confused by Satan's counterfeits and lies.
When I deal in earthly systems of currency, a temptation is always present to use money primarily to benefit myself at some expense to others. This can be so subtle that very often I may be completely unaware that it is even happening. As a society we also can be swept along by assumptions that envelop us because of our deep investment in economics and our dependence on currency. But our ignorance does not exempt us from responsibility for our participation in the exploitation that many experience because of how currency is manipulated to steal, kill and destroy others. Living in a world based on economics forces us to ride the waves of exploitation in many directions and causes us to participate at least partially in various ways that contribute to those effects.
Am I suggesting that it is a sin to be involved with money of any kind? I don't believe that is what God expects, at least not at this point in history. There are many things about living in this fallen world totally surrounded by counterfeit systems that we have little power to change at this point. But at the same time I don't believe God wants us to remain ignorant of these things and continue to indulge ourselves in ways that encourage exploitation of others. Salvation is heaven's way of extricating us from the thinking of this world over time, so we should not resist growing revelations of truth that God brings to us. These truths are meant to prepare us for the time coming on this world when these systems will be exposed and the polarization between God's children and Satan's kingdom will become distinct.
In the book of Revelation we read a detailed description in chapter 18 about the coming collapse of the whole system of economics that this world is built upon and the terrifying effects it will have on all who have depended on it for their identity and livelihood. This book also tells us about a time just before that when all those refusing to embrace the counterfeit systems of this world will be refused access to these systems of economics.
And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast so that the image of the beast could even speak and cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be killed. Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell who does not have the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. (Revelation 13:15-17 NRSV)
Many view this prophecy in great fear. But in reality such fear is only symptomatic of our current dependence on the false system of economics. Many cannot imagine being able to live outside of that system. But in reality this event should be seen as an invitation and an opportunity for all those who resist Satan's world-wide system of dominance to fully enter into God's way of living through total dependence on Him and in fellowship with His true followers. The closer God's children come to living in heaven's system of relationships based on selfless love and caring for each other and complete dependence on God now, the less they will be interested in remaining under the counterfeit methods of the world relied on by everyone else.
I believe we are living in a very pivotal time of history. Those are are aware of the extreme importance of this time are beginning to enter into what it means to live by faith in God's trustworthiness and provisions instead of a faith in economics, law and the systems of dominance as promoted by the world. The closer we come to living in trusting dependence and cooperation with our Father who has promised to take care of His faithful children, the less we will be enamored with the false allurements of counterfeit systems that promise to satisfy our needs.
And my God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19 NRSV) This is not just referring to what we assume are our financial needs, but all the needs we truly have that the counterfeit system of artificial economics entices us to think we can satisfy through the use of money.
When we use money to attempt to meet our needs, we may be engaging in something that in reality we should be leaving with God. Many times we take things into our own hands in the ways we spend money instead of living in trusting dependence on our Father to meet our needs. I am not saying that we should never participate in economics, for the core problem is not in the money itself but in the spirit which is motivating us. Jesus said that we would remain in this world which up to this point includes participating in some of the artificial activities of how this world lives. But there is a way in which we can live among and participate with those involved in economics without imbibing the spirit of Mammon which feeds our selfishness and entices us away from directions God is leading our hearts.
I ponder some of the little ways in which the spirit of Mammon is sometimes exposed in my life. When I feel urged to acquire educational materials that can enhance me spiritually, I sometimes pull back because they seem unreasonably expensive. It may be true that they are expensive, and maybe those selling these materials are themselves infected by the spirit of Mammon even though they are being led by God in many areas of their lives. My choice however is what spirit I will listen to and how I choose to relate to God's provisions for me. Do I decide to move forward on my own evaluation of how I believe I should control my life or do I believe God will provide for what His Spirit directs me to do?
Can such thinking encourage irresponsibility in financial decisions? Sure it can. But even then we are still dealing with something much deeper than simply financial common sense as the world views it. Economic common sense itself may not be in harmony with heaven's common sense, and often those listening to the 'different drummer' of heaven's promptings can appear to be erratic and even irrational or irresponsible at times. It is easy to judge each other when in truth we need to be checking how honestly our own spirit is in tune with the Spirit of Jesus.
I have observed that it can also be a danger to assume that if we just give impulsively to whatever need we see around us that we are doing God's will in contrast to those who seek to be more careful about how funds are expended. We can judge others as less spiritual than ourselves because they seem to be more inhibited or reserved in finances when it comes to helping everyone who asks for a handout. But that very spirit of resentment toward those who are not in agreement with us can itself be a warning sign that we may be self-deceived and might actually be following our own impulses more than the promptings of the Spirit of Jesus. Jesus also had many instructions about being responsible with resources that God provides to us.
All who are truly desirous of coming into harmony and sympathy with the way Jesus relates to people will find themselves at different points on the path toward full maturity, wisdom and clarity in listening to the promptings of the Holy Spirit in their heart. We must be extremely careful to pay keen attention to tuning our spirit to discerning God's Spirit, especially when we seek to evaluate someone else's motives, for that is always a very hazardous venture any time. However, we must be very keen ourselves to seek God's Spirit to judge our own hearts, for it is only in coming closer and closer to the true light of the truth as it is in Jesus that we can have enlightened minds and a right spirit to discern God's leading and working in other hearts.
The Spirit of God will always be in harmony with the selfless agape love that defines the very essence of God's character. The spirit of Mammon is going to be rooted in opposite motives, though at times it may masquerade in an appearance of concern for others. Mammon urges us to come out best in the end of most transactions, even if we are giving to those in need. We may be subconsciously craving for people and even God to view us as worthy or righteous because of our generosity by doing such things. But our motives are exposed when we become resentful after our apparent kindness is not duly rewarded or we don't get the results we expected to produce.
Jesus spoke in terms of being stewards rather than owners. In many of His parables Jesus spoke of finances, but often from the perspective of a servant handling the resources of a master or owner. His stories involved how trustworthy a servant might be as they are given opportunity to handle the money of someone else, and after a time they are called to be accountable for their choices. I believe these instructions are given to remind us that in reality we do not own anything but are simply stewards of everything under our control and influence in order to reveal how willing we are to be faithful in the things with which we have been entrusted. Faithfulness includes not simply throwing around resources recklessly but making wise investments for the purpose of producing the greatest returns. Of course the returns that heaven is interested in are different than the kind of currency returns we are used to thinking of in our counterfeit systems. Heavenly returns must be measured in terms of the kind of currency that heaven uses.
As is the case with everything, all of Satan's institutions and principles are imitations of something that is real and much better in the original system which he claimed to improve upon in his system. Thus it must be discerned what original is being imitated by the false economic systems of earth. What constitutes the economy of heaven? What currency does heaven use, and is that currency artificial like ours or something far more real and immune to inflation or collapse of its value?
There are strong clues about that in the first verses quoted above, but that is a subject for another time.