God and Money

When Jesus said “You cannot serve both God and money” in the book of Matthew, what he actually said was “You cannot serve both God and mammon.”

According to the Textus Receptus (Wikipedia, duh) the Greek spelling of mammon refers to “a Syrian deity, god of riches.”

Before you get all “Oh yea, Jesus was talking about one of his buddies!”

“Can man make for himself gods?  Such are not gods!” – Jeremiah

The people knew mammon.  It wasn’t a strange word to them.  It is a strange word to us.

Right?  It is strange isn’t it?  You don’t use it often do you?  If so, you’re a weirdo.

It’s fine if you’re a weirdo.  I’m the weirdest person I know.  I’m just saying that if you use mammon often in your day to day speech…. it’s weird.

Anyway.  What is it?  If it obviously isn’t the god of riches.

“It is the Lord who makes rich, and our toil adds nothing to it.” – a Proverbist

Mammon is the spirit that rests on money.  And it is not a good one.  If it was a good one, Jesus would have said “Serve God and He will give to you Mammon.”

Before you stop reading due to another wacko Christian lesson, just hear out my practical teaching.

I want to explain the specific instances where I feel the pull of mammon on me and my personal life.  I have been convicted of it in the past and ignored it completely, telling myself that this is the last time or I’m not hurting anyone.

I’m going to chance some transparency and confess some personal shortcomings.  Prepare yourself for my imperfections.

Ever been to a casino?  (Oh boy).  I have.  It’s so much fun.  No clocks.  No windows.  Lots of flashy lights.  And GAMES!

Granted, the games were created to take all your money, but who cares?  Let’s play ’em!

***Quick disclaimer, my stance is not against others gambling, my stance is against ME giving in to the pull of mammon ever again.***

But I’ve been to Vegas.  I’ve gambled.  I’ve been up in money, I’ve been down in money.  And here’s a common thought that I think all conservative gamblers use (that I certainly used myself):

I have not spent more than I intended to spend.  I will not spend more than I brought to gamble.  This is my absolute maximum.

We who think this way DO stick to our budget.  We really won’t go over our set aside amount.  We really do show self-control, and we think that in doing so, we are defeating the pull of the spirit that rests on money.

I don’t think we’re putting up much of a fight.

I’ve walked through casinos thinking I see how people can give their lives over to this.

Not convinced?  I have a question:  if casino games were played without money, without betting the money and without the chance of receiving money, would you still play?

I wouldn’t.  Hence, mammon.

I’ve played fantasy football in the past.  There is an entry fee, winner gets a lot.

I hate fantasy football.

If there is anything that can take me back to my years of temper tantrums and inexplicable cursing, it’s fantasy football.

The funny thing about it is that if we didn’t put money on it, I would quit halfway through the season, or earlier depending how bad I’m doing.

I know lots of people can play fantasy football without money included.  That’s cool.  Good for you.  I can’t.

I don’t know how you do.  That sounds so boring.

I hate it.

I play it because I have a chance to win a buncha money.

Hence, mammon.

Then, there’s poker.

Yea, Texas Hold’em…  Sigh…

I used to be good at it.  We would play regularly.  It was a long time ago.

But it still comes around fairly often.  And when it does, I play.  And when I lose, I’m sooooooooooooo angry.

And when I win, I’m thrilled because I just won money.

Let’s step back a bit.  Have you ever played poker?

Have you ever played without money?

Poker is the MOST boring game alive if played without money.  The only thing that makes it fun is money.

I’m not sharing my opinion here.  I’m certain that no one would have fun playing real Texas Hold’em if there were no money involved.  It’s awful.

I have said and thought exactly what you may be thinking now:  Poker requires skill, though.  It’s not a gambling game.  You can be good at it and increase your chances of winning on most occasions.

The fact is, I don’t disagree.  But again, do you want to play without the chance to win money?

I don’t.


And time consuming.

I’d rather watch tv at home with Smokin’ Hot Wife after the babies are asleep, eating Twizzlers and drinking Coca-Cola.

Sometimes I’ll add some chocolate in there.

Anyway, hence, mammon.

Lastly, and certainly not least… ly…

I look at my bank account often.  I normally do it to keep watch over my flocks, but many times I’m checking to make sure we are stable.

I find security in the money that we have.  Honestly, it’s detrimental to my faith.

This is perhaps the greatest (and most disguised) form of mammon known to me.

That’s enough of that one.  You don’t need anymore.

However, if you have found, or will in the future find, yourself in the same position as me, with similar convictions, how will you resist or avoid the pull of mammon?

Don’t know.  Peace.

Ha ha ha ha…

Really, though.

Remember I’m in the midst of this, I don’t have a plan yet, but I know how I am.  I hang around fire and I get burned.

Our head coach in college (when he was sober enough to attend meetings) always told the same story.

He had one particular guy who had played for him and eventually succeeded in the NFL, can’t remember his name.  Please don’t ask.

Coach asked his former player what the secret was that allowed him success when so many others failed.

The answer?

Dogs with fleas.

“Dogs with fleas?” you ask?

He went on to explain that when clean dogs hang out with dogs with fleas, the clean dog gets fleas.

Now I’m not saying my company is poor.  I’m saying that I can’t allow myself the flashiness of a casino floor without the overwhelming urge to play the games.

I can’t allow myself around a poker table and expect to sit back and watch.

I can’t allow myself the “luxury” or I’ll get fleas.

Don’t want fleas.  We had ’em once.  You may have read about it.  Impossible to get rid of.

In the next few months, I hope to share a real gambling story.  Until then, mine will have to do.

Do not conform.  Screw debt.