In this study we want to consider a little more in depth about how God and money are two opposites and, if we are attracted to one, we will reject the other.
Let us look at Luke 16:13 once again where Jesus said, ‘‘No servant can serve two masters.’’ We have seen that the two masters are God and mammon. Mammon means money and material riches. Either you will hate one and love the other, or hold on to one and despise the other. If you love God, you will hate money, if you hold onto God, you will despise money. If you love money, it proves that you hate God. If you hold onto money, it proves that you despise God. It is as clear as that. In fact, 1Timothy 6:10 says, ‘‘The love of money is the root of every sort of evil.’’ Not money. Money is not the root of all evil, but the love of it. ‘‘And many people wander away from the faith, and destroy themselves, and create a lot of problems for themselves’’ (1 Tim. 6:10).
So, if we don’t get this matter of money right in our life, we are going to have a lot of problems. We will never be able to grow in our Christian life. I am convinced that, this is one of the main reasons why many believers do not make progress in their Christian Life. They seem to be stunted like little children that have never gown up. How can we love God more than we love money? Is it by preaching, and preaching, and preaching, that we should hate money? No, that doesn’t seem to work. A negative message like that would only produce Pharisees, who imagine that they hate money and love Jesus, and imagine that all other believers are not like them. They will be self-righteous. No, that is not the way.
Here is an example. Think of a young girl who is deeply in love with a young man and who feels that she cannot live without him. She is always thinking about him, trying to meet him, telephoning him, writing letters to him, because she is deeply in love with him. He may not be a good man; he may even be a bad man. Her parents may try to tell their daughter to end that relationship, to give it up; to stop loving him, to hate him. And it doesn’t work. It is just like telling believers to hate money, it doesn’t work. The parents keep on telling the girl, ‘No he is not a good boy for you, and that is not the type of boy you should be in love with or marry. Give it up. Give it up.’ Nothing happens. They continue to meet secretly. No matter what the parents say, her love for that man increases.
This is exactly how it is with many believers. They hear hundreds of sermons on hating money – it doesn’t make any difference. They still love money secretly and they are attached to it, just like this girl to this boy. Then, one day, a miracle takes place. This girl now meets another young man who is far more handsome, far more considerate, far more kind, and better behaved, has a better job, and better prospects and, in every way, more attractive. Suddenly her heart is filled with love for this young man, and she never wants to see that first young man anymore.
What the parents did not succeed in doing in so many years, in one moment, this man has accomplished by coming into her life. She will never again reply to the phone call of that first man. She is finished corresponding with him. She says, ‘I never want to see you again, I am finished with you.’ What happened? Her parents are delighted because this new man is a very good man. How did she get rid of her love for that first man? There we see how we can get rid of our love for money and material things.
Your heart has to be filled with love for someone else. That is the only way. That new love will drive out the old one. It is like light driving out the darkness. Supposing a room is filled with darkness and you switch on the light, what happens? The darkness and the light cannot live in the same room. Till then that room was filled with darkness and, in one moment, it is gone. Just like this girl, for so long her heart was attached to that bad man and the parents could never remove that affection from her heart. But once she found this better man, she changed immediately. So, we don’t preach a negative message. We lift up Christ. And when your heart is drawn to love Him, when you see Jesus as He really is, when you love the Lord with all your heart, automatically, without any effort, you will find that your attachment and love for money has disappeared.
Then what shall we say if this girl outwardly says that she loves this second man, but secretly still corresponds with the first man, telephones him, and secretly meets him. What would you say? You would say she is a hypocrite. She is only pretending to love the second one. She is actually still in love with the first one. Now this is the condition of many, many believers. They say they love Jesus. Every Sunday they get up and sing songs to each other like wonderful love letters written to Jesus. Some of these hymns that we sing on Sunday morning are like love letters to the Lord, fantastic love letters. But throughout the week we are interested in the first man. What does it prove?
We are just hypocrites. We don’t really love the Lord at all. Why don’t we love the Lord? You can’t force a person. You can’t take this girl and say, ‘Come on, you must love this man.’ Love is spontaneous, you can’t force it. If it doesn’t come automatically, it is just not there. It is only when you get to appreciate a person, you get drawn. It is when this girl appreciated this second boy she was drawn to him. It is only when we really see the glory of Jesus, how good God is, how loving He is, how much He gave to purchase me to be his own, how He lived, suffered, and died on this earth only for me, then we will love Him. And when we love him like that, the attraction of these earthly things just vanishes.
So it is very clear that, even if you call yourself a believer, if you still love money and material things, you do not love Jesus with all your heart. It is impossible to love God and mammon. If you say, you don’t love mammon but you pursue after it, aren’t you telling a lie? If you say, ‘No I don’t have any interest in that first boy anymore,’ but every now and then you are running after him, aren’t you telling a lie? That is exactly the same. You say, ‘But we need money to live on this earth.’ We certainly do. I said that right from the beginning.
I am not saying that we don’t need money. Even Jesus needed money to live on this earth. But He never ran after it. That was not the goal of His life; to make more and more money. No! Let me ask you a question. Do you get excited when you suddenly get a lot of money, unexpectedly? Are you longing to make more and more money? If your answer is yes to either of these questions; you are excited when you get more money or you are longing to make more and more money, then it is clear, my dear friend, that you love money. You do serve mammon.
There is nothing wrong in getting more money. There is nothing wrong in getting a very high salary. No! You can get Fifty Thousand rupees a month, and still love God; it is quite possible. It is not a question on how much you earn. I am not saying you can love God only if you get three hundred rupees a month. That is not what Jesus taught. It is not a question of how much you earn, it is a question of whether you love or run after it. That is the point.
Now, many believers are so foolish to think that, if they get more money, that is an indication of God’s blessing on them. Some believers even wish that God would help them, one day, to win a lottery; if they can get that bumper prize of ten lakhs rupees having bought a ticket for only one rupee. Do you know lotteries are one of Satan’s means to lure people to worshipping money? Hoping to earn hundred thousand rupees by paying one rupee or five rupees? What is the use? How are you getting those one lakh rupees? One hundred thousand people have bought tickets and you are cashing in on the disappointment of those hundred thousand other people in order to be lucky. You are getting one rupee each given by a hundred thousand people. Is that the way God wants us to live on this earth? That is what lottery is. That is not God’s way for us to earn a living. No! Do you think Jesus would buy a lottery ticket? Many people think that that will make them happy. It is evil to live off of the money of other people. It is better to have little that we earn on our own. Don’t think that this is an indication of God’s blessing.
God’s blessing is not seen in material things. Jesus was poor and He was the most blessed. The apostle Peter once said, ‘Silver and gold I have none.’ Paul was poor. He had to work with his hand, struggle to earn a living. In the Old Testament we have an example of Lot and Abraham. Abraham never wanted to get rich but God blessed him and he was rich. But Lot wanted to get rich. He went to Sodom to make money. You can read about that in Genesis 12-13 and all the way up to Genesis 19. What was the result? He destroyed himself. Balaam wanted to get rich as a preacher. What was the result? He lost his calling and went to hell. Gehazi, the servant of Elisha (you can read about it in 2 Kings 5), wanted to get rich. He not only missed the opportunity to be the next prophet after Elisha, but also brought leprosy upon himself and his children. You see so many examples. Judas Iscariot wanted to get some money and he destroyed himself and went to hell. We have enough warning there. Dimas could have been an apostle like Paul; he could have written scripture. Instead of that, he went after money and destroyed himself and lost his calling.
Dear friend, take it seriously. The Bible warns us: ‘‘Those who want to get rich will fall into temptation and many foolish and harmful desires, which plunged men into ruin and destruction.’’ There is only one way to escape it, say, ‘Lord Jesus, I want to love You with all my heart, not 90% of my heart, with all my heart and all my life, and save me form this terrible evil of the love of money.’
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.