How To Worship the god of Money

How To Worship the god of Money
Robert Wurtz II

But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. (Matthew 18:26-29)

Our story is a familiar one that is typically used to demonstrate the evil of unforgiveness. However, in this entry I would like to take a more direct approach and examine this portion dealing with money itself. Here is a man who had been forgiven 10,000 talents (monetary debt). He then goes out and finds a fellow servant that owed him 100 denarii. By contrast, it takes 5000 denarii to equal 1 talent. A denarii, as the word is used in the Gospels, represents a days wage. We gain more insight when we recall that the Disciples suggested that it would cost 200 denarii to feed the 5000. In other words, 100 denarii could by food to feed 2500 men (plus women and children). So the man in Matthew 18:26-29 was owed a significant amount of money.

In Roman times it was legal to take a person by the throat, choking and leading them to court, if they owed you money and refused to pay. In fact, some creditors were so brutal that they would twist a person’s neck until blood flowed from the mouth and nostrils. (Pelobout, P. 325; see also Vincent) This seems to be what is in view here. The man, not sure how much he was owed, throttled his fellow servant and demanded an account of where his money was.

This passage is made to sting all the more for those who are familiar with our Lord’s teachings on money. Consider how Luke 6:34-35 would apply to this wicked man:

And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.

In other words, don’t get worked up when people borrow and cannot or do not repay. Some will say, “The wicked borrow and do not repay.” (Psalm 37:21) This may be, but it does not give you or I the right to treat a person in an unloving and unpeacable way, just because they are somehow indebted to us. In fact, if you don’t expect it back, as the passage says, you won’t be disappointed in the first place. What did Jesus say? Do you want to be like God? Do you really? Love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.

Money and Insanity

Are you under the impression that this man in Matthew 18:26-29 is a rare case? He is not. There is something about money that alters some peoples’ thinking patterns to begin acting unloving and even cruel. Christians (so-called) can be as bad if not worse. They can be praising the Lord one minute and then the subject of money comes up. Suddenly, they are right in the cross hairs of James 1:8, A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. As if the subject of money anoints a person to act foolishly and contrary to their normal Christian life. What is worse is the belief that “spiritual” and “business” are different compartments of our Christian life. They are not. Let me see how you behave when it comes to money, and I’ll show you how spiritual you really are. 

The Stewards of God

And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home. He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? (Luke 16-9-11)

When a person is in a double-minded state, they will make this passage say the exact opposite of what it says. Notice it begins by saying, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon.” What does that mean? Brow beat people and cause a fuss over money? Drag them before the authorities until blood runs from their mouth and nose? God forbid! Some Christians do the exact opposite of what Jesus is saying to do. They don’t use money to “make friends” their obsessive attitude towards money “makes enemies.” You can cause people to hate you and despise you by exalting money; especially when you call them on the carpet over a debt and they have no way to pay. On the contrary, we can use money as an expression of our Christian love for others. This is what it is to be a “good steward.” We give when there is a need. We lend, not expecting it back. We have a cheerful attitude towards money rather than an overbearing attitude. We don’t ascribe to money an undue importance or significance. A faithful steward is one that distributes the “unrighteous money” in a way God would if He were you. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. 

How To Worship The god of Money

And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own? “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 16:11–13 NKJV)

You want to worship the god of money? Go ahead. Just keep mistreating people for money’s sake. Keep causing a fuss every chance you get. You want to bow down to that almighty dollar? Just keep on making enemies because of the obsessive way in which you approach money. God has offered us an opportunity to use money for the furtherance of His purposes — through the expression of true Christian love. When a Christian says “I love you” with their mouth, but won’t back it up with their pocketbook, they defraud themselves from capacity to love “in deed and in truth.” (1 John 3:17-18) In fact, it only reveals what God already knew about us. We shut up the bowels of our compassion as an expression of our non-love. 


You want to serve god AND mammon? Keep praying for folks that God would meet their need, when you know in your own heart you have the means of helping them yourself. What does it profit to tell the person “be ye warmed and filled?” It only serves to expose us and who we really worship. Selah.
Jesus once said that many will say on that day, “Lord, Lord, in thy name have we not cast out devils and done many wonderful works?” Only to hear, “Depart from me, you who work lawlessness.” I suggest this can never be truer than when it comes to money. The reason is that so many Christians have an unloving attitude when it comes to money, because they idolize money. That is a clear breech of both of the great commandments. We are supposed to love our neighbor, but when it comes to “money” and “business” many think they have a green light to behave badly. As if someone waved a wand over their faces, and their eyes began swirling in a trance-like state when money was the subject. What are they doing? They are trying to serve God and mammon (money). Not knowing that it is impossible. They end up being loyal to their money and then trying to find a theology for their behavior. Usually, again, it is something to do with stewardship. However, we have already demonstrated that Biblical stewardship is the process by which money is used to “make friends,” that is to say, to express Christian love. 

There are people in the world who try to serve God and money, but they can’t do it. Covetousness is idolatry, and no idolater has eternal life abiding in him. At the end of the day, the loyalty generally goes to money, and God is despised. These people are known Biblically as Philarguroi an old Greek word made up of philos and arguros (a lover or friend of silver). We can’t love money. We have to love God and people. We cannot love all three. We have to make a choice. That is the plain reading of Luke 16:11-13. No one can serve money and God at the same time

   


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