In this study we shall look to a verse of scripture that tells us how we can be delivered from the power of mammon, and serve God with all of our heart.
Money is a wonderful servant but a terrible master like fire is. Fire is a wonderful servant when kept in control on the gas stove, but a terrible master when it is allowed to burn down the house. Jesus said in Matthew 22:21, ‘‘Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s,’’ teaching us, first of all, to be righteous in money matters, and secondly, to be faithful in money matters. To be righteous, first of all, is to give back to other people what is rightfully theirs. If you have borrowed money, return it. If you have cheated, return it. If you have cheated the income tax department or the customs department, give it back. If you don’t do it, you will be dragging a chain on your feet all your life. You will never be able to run the Christian race, I will tell you that. Settle it now. It is better to get God’s blessing than to hang on to money, which is not yours.
Do you know that if you have even one rupee with you, which is unrighteously earned, that money will be a curse to you and to your children? You will not be ready for the coming of the Lord if you have not settled matters down on this earth. No, we must not have one rupee with us, which has been unrighteously earned. Concerning this matter the Bible says in Roman 13:8, ‘‘Owe nothing to anyone.’’ We should avoid all borrowing, as far as possible. Avoid getting into debt, it is a bad habit. Be happy with what God gives you and live within that income. The advertisement in the papers say, ‘Buy now and pay later.’ That is the surest way to get into debt. Let me give you another motto: ‘Save now and buy later,’ when you have enough money with you.
Now, I want to make something clear here. Many people get loans from their offices or banks for buying a vehicle, a two-wheeler or a car, or a building loan to build a house. There is nothing wrong in taking a loan like that because, for that money, you have something to show like a vehicle or a house. If you are unable to repay that money, they will take back the house or take back the vehicle so in that sense you are not in debt at all. So that is all right. But when you take money to spend on something that disappears, for example, for a wedding, you are in slavery. The slavery of believers to mammon is seen most clearly at weddings. There you can see the covetousness, the greed, and the honour seeking displayed unashamedly. Consider the dowry system practiced not only by unbelievers, but by believers in almost every denomination. It is very sad.
Those who ask for a dowry, before deciding whether this is the girl God wants them to marry, are a disgrace to the name of Jesus Christ. They are certainly not His disciples. How do you find out God’s will whether this is the girl whom God wants you to marry – By finding out whether her father can give you so much money! You are serving mammon then. It doesn’t matter if your pastor or your priest says it is okay. God’s word does not encourage it. If you were to ask Jesus, what would He say? What would Jesus tell you when you pray? Will He tell you to go and ask him for some more dowry? Can you imagine the Lord Jesus saying such a thing? Then where are you getting that advice from? You are getting that advice form unconverted people. We must never expect a dowry when it comes to marriage. No!
Consider also the great waste of money there is at many wedding receptions. Now there is nothing wrong in having a good wedding reception, if you can afford it. Jesus Himself made extra wine for people at a wedding reception! But I know many believers who have borrowed money in order to have such a grand reception and then remain in debt for years. Isn’t that a stupid way to start a marriage? That is evil. It is far better, in such a case, to have a simple reception. Don’t compete with some other family who had a grand reception for their wedding. And borrow money to show that you are also able to have such a grand reception. You may say, ‘If I have a simple reception, what will others say?’ Why not then ask yourself, ‘What will God say?’ Are you more afraid of man’s opinion than God’s? Do you think God wants you to start your married life in debt? We must never adulterate the message of Christ in the Christian church.
This must be our standard: We will not get into debt, as far as possible. There may be situations, such as emergency, you have to borrow money from somebody. You know emergency situations which you didn’t anticipate. But then you must seek to return that as soon as possible. The word of God is very clear in Romans 13:8 ‘‘Owe nothing to anyone.’’ Be content with what you have. Don’t be in competition with any other believer.
Once you learn to be righteous in money matters, you go on to being faithful. What does it mean to be faithful? Render to God what is God’s. That is the second thing He said. What is God’s? Many people will say 10%. Well, in the Old Testament it was 10%. In the New Testament, Jesus said, ‘‘If you don’t forsake all that you have, you cannot be my disciple.’’ How much is all? All means 100%. When He says, ‘Give to God what is God’s,’ He means 100%. What would you think of a wife who works, and tells her husband, ‘I will give you 10% of my income, the other 90% I am giving to somebody else?’ Is that a good partnership type of relationship? No!
In the Old Testament, people were not married to God like we are to Christ. They were servants. Servants can give 10% to their master; that is okay. But we are not servants. We are a bride. We are the wife. We have a joint account. Not separate accounts. Masters and servants don’t have joint accounts. They have separate accounts. But a husband and wife have a joint account. Like Jesus said to the Father in John 17:10, ‘‘All that is mine is thine, and all that is thine is mine.’’ That is a joint account. And that is what we say also as Christians: ‘Lord all that is mine is yours.’ Not 10%. Then do you know what He says? ‘‘All that is Mine is yours too.’’ Isn’t that wonderful? – That, you give your little 10 paise to God, and He gives you His millions. Isn’t it wonderful to have a joint account with God?
But you can’t have a joint account with God if you give 10%. You have to give everything. You have to say, ‘Lord, first of all, everything that I have belongs to you in any case.’ We read in 1 Corinthians 10:26, ‘‘The earth is the Lord’s, and everything that the earth contains is the Lord’s.’’ Have you read that? All the houses, all the lands, all the gold, all the silver, everything on earth belongs to God. Once you recognize that, you don’t think you are doing God a great favour when you give everything to him. No! You are giving what belongs to Him. Have you earned much? Has God given you intelligence, ability, qualifications, and capabilities, and talents to earn a lot of money, whether in business or in a profession or whatever? Don’t forget Deuteronomy 8:18, ‘‘It is the Lord who gives you power to make money.’’ Don’t ever forget that. It is the Lord who gives you power to make money. You could have been paralyzed, you could have been retarded, you could have been sick and you would have earned nothing. You could have been stupid and earned nothing. Don’t ever forget that all the money you have earned in your life, God helped you to do it. So your money is not your own. Every way you look at it, it is not yours.
Now that doesn’t mean you have to take all your income and give it for God’s work. No! That is not what I mean. We give it to Him, first of all, because it belongs to Him, and secondly because we love Him. And so we say, ‘Lord this is yours, now tell me what I can spend on myself.’ Do you think God doesn’t want you to live in a decent house? You think He wants you to live in a slum? That is not true. I don’t believe it. Jesus didn’t live in a slum, a dirty slum. No, His house in Nazareth was not a dirty slum. Also God wants you to live with proper food, clothing, and house and education for your children. He wants you to spend on all these things. There is nothing wrong in all these things. So to give a 100% to God doesn’t mean to give it all to God’s work and to live on the streets. No! But to recognize that I am a steward, I am only a manager handling somebody else’s money. Though you earned it, you recognize it is God’s. I want to use it faithfully, recognizing all this is God’s. That is the only way to be detached from mammon. That is the only way to be delivered from the power of mammon in your life.
Jesus said in Luke 16:13, ‘‘If you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous mammon who will entrust the true riches to you.’’ You know, if you are not faithful, we are not talking about righteousness here. We already finished with righteousness. To be faithful means, you say, ‘Lord, I don’t want to waste any money. I don’t want to spend unnecessarily on myself. I want to be wise on what I spend. I don’t want to be luxurious. I want to live simply so that I can have money to give for your work, to serve you, to live for you.’ When we are faithful, you know what God gives us in exchange – The true riches of heaven. Revelation on His word, likeness to Christ, if we learn to be simple in our expenditure, being careful not to waste anything that God gives us. This is the reason why many people are spiritually poor. Because they are not faithful with money or they are not being righteous with money.
Will you make a decision right now? Say, ‘Lord, I not only want to give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, I also want to give you what is yours. In every area I want to put you first. I don’t want to waste money on myself anymore. I want to be faithful knowing that I have to give an account to you, one day, of every rupee that I have earned.’ Make that covenant with God and see, if from this day onwards God doesn’t bless you. I believeHe will.
This is part of the Basic Christian Teachings Series, a set of 72 short messages presented by Zac Poonen. You can download the audio mp3 files or listen to Basic Christian Teachings by clicking here.