CREATURE VERSUS CREATOR
MAMMON VERSUS GOD (Part I)
“No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” (Luke 16:13)
God clearly warns us that it is impossible for us human creatures to serve two masters. Our Creator ordained that He be our One and Only Master. And when Christ warns us that we cannot serve two masters, He then tells us that we cannot serve God and mammon. I believe He names mammon in particular, because many people serve it as their master, thereby doing away with their Creator as their Master. Moreover, masses of people commit the sin of idolatry by fervently worshipping money, making it into their idol god. Their thoughts (worship) are constantly on money, on using it, and on scheming to get more of it. Such is the act of serving mammon instead of God. May God save us Christian believers from making mammon our master in the place of our Creator, and may He save us from the sin of worshipping money.
“ Almighty Jehovah God, please save me from serving mammon. Please save me from making mammon my master. Help me to truly and wholly serve Thee with all my heart and to truly and wholly make Thee, my Creator God, my Master. Please save me from committing the sin of idolatry by worshipping money. I pray this for all other people also. Amen.”
Mammon is defined as “wealth” in the large Bible concordance I have. My Webster’s Dictionary defines mammon as “riches regarded as an object of worship and greedy pursuit.” I think there is much, important truth in that definition. May each of us let God’s Holy Spirit show us just how prone we are to worship money. The word “mammon” appears only four times in the King James Bible. All those four times are in the New Testament, and all are spoken by our Lord Jesus when He was on this earth. Three of those times are here in this one passage in Luke chapter 16, in verses 9, 11, and 13. Please note carefully in verses 9 & 11 that the words “unrighteousness” and “unrighteous” are used to describe mammon.
The one other time mammon is mentioned in the New Testament is in Matthew 6:24, which is almost identical to Luke 16:13 which is written at the start of this chapter. If we believers are to glorify our Creator during our short time in this life, it is of necessity that we do not serve mammon. Because by doing so, we do not serve God and do not make God Master of our life. (Most of us think of silver, gold, and money as being mammon, and in general that is correct.)
After giving us the solemn warning that “the love of money is the root of all evil” in I Timothy 6:10, God then sternly commands us in verse 11, “But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.” May God wake you up and make you aware of just how prone you are to sinfully chase after money when He commands us to do the opposite by fleeing from it. God commands us to flee unrighteous mammon and to follow after righteousness. God help us to do that.
“Lord God, I ask Thee to make me fully aware of how prone I am to commit the sin of loving money and how prone I am to chase after it. Save me from those sins and enable me to obey Thee by fleeing from these unrighteous things and guide me to follow after righteousness. I pray this for all other people also. Amen.”
Choosing to serve either God or mammon is one of the most basic and one of the most important spiritual choices we are faced with in this life. In this life on earth, each human creature chooses to serve some one or some thing. A vast number of people who refuse to serve their Creator God choose instead to serve mammon. Serving God fills one’s heart with love, joy, peace, and every other good thing from Above that money cannot possibly buy. Serving mammon totally empties the heart of every good thing, brings on untold misery, pain, and suffering, and eventually totally destroys the person who serves it. May God help all of us to serve Him with all our hearts.
“Lord God, please teach me how important is this basic choice of serving Thee versus serving mammon. Teach me fully of all the great, everlasting blessings and benefits that come from choosing to serve Thee. Teach me fully how totally destructive it would be to me if I chose to serve mammon. Please save me from serving mammon and help me to serve Thee with all my heart. I pray this for all other people also. Amen.”
“The love of money”
“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.” (I Timothy 6:6-11)
How destructive is the love of money, being the root of all evil. Probably it wrecks, ruins, and destroys more human lives than any other one thing. I never cease to be amazed at the great power money has to entice us human creatures to love it. Once I was in the home of another missionary here in Japan as his daughter sat beside me on the sofa staring at 3 or 4 coins she had in her hand. She was not yet 4 years old. But, with her gaze firmly fixed on those few coins, she kept repeating, “I’ve got money. I’ve got money.” At that age, likely her parents had not yet “taken her shopping” and let her buy anything with money. But from observing her, I believe that she had already come to love money, and I marveled at the attraction that mammon held for such a small child and the power it had upon her.
I read a true account of a woman out walking with her dog when she noticed that the dog had picked up something and held it in its mouth. She was some distance from the dog, and the object looked like a piece of scrap paper. Tho the dog was well trained to follow commands, yet he ignored the owner’s repeated command to “drop it.” Then she commanded the dog to sit, and walked to it to discover it had a $10 bill in its mouth. It seems that even that animal sensed the object was too valuable to be dropped. If that is true, then likely evil demonic power is upon each piece of money.
Think what joy it brings to you to find a quarter (25 cent piece) on the sidewalk and pocket it, or to open up a Christmas card or birthday card given to you and find money enclosed. Certainly, money strongly allures all of us to love it. So we must constantly bear in mind that the love of money is the root of all evil. Loving our Creator God with all our hearts is the only way to be completely saved from the sin of loving money, a sin that many human creatures have set their hearts upon, all over the world, and down through all ages. And the result of that horrible sin has been their own destruction.
“Almighty God, show me just how prevalent is the sin of loving money among mankind, especially in my own heart. Please save me from loving money. I pray this for all other people also. Amen.”
“Say ‘money’ and a dead man will open his eyes.” I have heard that is a proverb in India. “The customer is god.” That is a saying here in Japan, because many people here worship and covet the customer’s money. Therefore he is to be treated as a god in order to get as much of his money as possible. The sin of loving money is deeply engrained in fallen mankind throughout the world, “Christian nations” included.
World War II thrust the U.S. much farther into the industrial age, resulting in more steel mills that were put to use after the war to provide a car (and many more luxurious things) for each American household. At that time, there were few or no restrictions regarding the deadly poisons that poured forth from the smoke stacks of those mills day and night without ceasing. Those poisons turned the air yellow, coated everything with a layer of dirty ash and residue, dirtied the laundry when it was hung outdoors to dry, killed grass, flowers, and trees in people’s yards, caused one’s eyes to burn, one’s throat to be raw and sore, caused colds, emphysema, and many more such illnesses to increase, leaving much harm and destruction in its deadly path. A lady who lived in a steel mill city in the 1950’s later wrote about speaking to friends and neighbors against that awful destruction. She said their typical response to her was; “But it’s money.” “But it’s money.” That implied, “Shut up your opposition and enjoy all you can get out of life from the much mammon flowing into our city on this deadly wave of destruction.”
About 2 decades later, in the 1970’s, a man traveling by car in the U.S. stopped at a restaurant to eat. There was a paper mill in the area and the stench coming from it was horrible. He commented to the waitress that the people living there must certainly detest that terrible smell. “Oh, not really,” she replied. “A lot of people think it smells like money.” No matter how retched the stink, if it means money for us, we will pretend it is fragrant perfume. That is how much we love money. That is how zealously intent and determined we are on serving mammon.
Throughout this sin-sick world multitudes of women ply the trade of a harlot, the main reason being that it is easy money. Never mind the very high risk of disease rotting her body away and sending her to an early grave, nor the certainty of that sinful practice damning her to an eternal Hell. “It’s money.” “It smells like money.” No matter how much physical and mental pain it brings on, “it feels like money.” Therefore, for the love of money, they go speedily to their eternal damnation.
“Almighty God, I beg Thee to help me to love Thee with all my heart. Please save me from loving money. By Thy Unlimited Power, save me from the attracting and alluring power that money has, and keep me from loving it. Please help me to obey Thy command to be content with food and raiment. I pray this for all other people also. Amen.
I have long meditated on why the love of money is the root of all evil. For example, it seems that a man or woman’s immoral, sinful, evil lust to commit fornication or adultery is totally unrelated to money. Thinking along those lines, one thing I concluded is that money gives one the power to purchase most anything he desires toward the end of satisfying the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes, and the pride of life. Many people think that they could remedy every lack, insufficiency, and every problem in their lives, if they just had sufficient money to purchase those remedies. You must be careful to not let the power of money and the god of this world deceive you into thinking like that. By the way, some Christians (especially preachers) refer to money as the god of this world. It may be a “lesser god” of this world. But be sure to keep in mind that the god of this world is a living being, not a lifeless, inanimate object. The god of this world is Lucifer, Satan, who is likely the greatest and most powerful creature God has ever created. I believe that Satan instigated the use of money by us fallen human creatures. I believe that our Creator never ordained that we use money. I believe that money (mammon) is entirely of the world, which is the devil’s kingdom.
The love of money leads people to choose to serve mammon instead of serving God. Pray that God will help you to set your eyes, mind, heart, and all your affections on the “unsearchable riches of Christ” (Ephesians 3:8), which you can enjoy forever without end.
“Lord God, please open my eyes to enable me to comprehend the vastness of the unsearchable riches of Christ. Teach me just how vain and foolish it would be for me to choose to love earthly riches, instead of loving Christ with all my heart and thereby obtaining His eternal, unsearchable riches. Please save me from loving money, I pray. I pray this for all other people also. Amen.”
“He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity. (Ecclesiastes 5:10) In order to be saved from the destructive sin of loving money, please meditate constantly on this important scripture and ask God to help you to fully believe the truth of it. No matter how much you dislike the fact stated in that scripture and do not want to believe it, you need to earnestly call on your Creator to totally convince you that silver (money) cannot satisfy you, and then call on Him to save you from the sin of loving it and from the sin of seeking your life’s satisfaction in it.
Many people will read that last sentence and still declare to themselves; “I had still rather have much silver and an abundance of increase and be dissatisfied, than to be poor with no money and no things and be satisfied and content. How foolish and self-destructive we are. I have personally observed the faces of some very rich people and noted it was most rare for any of those faces to ever radiate joy. Observing one multibillionaire on TV, his somber face was totally void of joy. But people commonly pursue earthly riches for the POWER that riches give. So what if those riches erase all true joy, happiness, peace, satisfaction, and contentment from the owner’s heart. He so craves to feed his being on that gigantic power of those riches. And one of the main things that riches have the power to do is to totally and terribly destroy their owner. In order to save yourself from being destroyed by the power of mammon, you must come to fully believe that truth.
You must believe that “they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. Silver will not satisfy your soul because it cannot satisfy your soul. And if you love it, what it will definitely do to you, is to cause you to err from faith in your Creator God. It will pierce your soul through with many sorrows. The power of riches will destroy your being. You will save yourself from much grief and many sorrows by believing that and by crying out to your Creator to save you from loving money, silver, gold, mammon.
“Lord God, please make me fully aware of just how destructive is the love of money. Save me from loving it and thereby being destroyed by it. I pray this for all other people also. Amen.”
“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.” (I Timothy 6:6-8) If you want unsearchable riches, then seek godliness with contentment, which is great gain that you can keep forever. Do not let your sinful self, the god of this world, and the allurement and power of money turn your heart to serve money which will of a certainty make you miserable, discontent, and eventually totally destroy you.
“Ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries”
Fallen human creatures who believe God, will read I Timothy 6:6-8 and acknowledge the truth of it with head knowledge. But, still they had rather be rich than poor. They would prefer to have lots of money instead of little or no money. “Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.” (James 5:1-3) Knowing the truth of that, still many Christian believers prefer to be rich instead of just having enough money for food and raiment. They think it would just be better in so many ways, to be weeping and howling in misery while owning much money and many things it will buy and having its power to raise them up in this world, instead of being poor in the things of this world. How foolish and self-destructive we are.
“Almighty God, teach me just how destructive is the love of money. Save me from lusting after riches. Save me from the sin of discontentment that often wells up within my heart, even tho I have sufficient food and raiment and many more possessions in addition to that. I pray this for all other people also. Amen.”
Our Creator God created this earth for us human creatures to live upon. And He provided for all our livelihood in that earthly creation. He ordained that the human creature till the ground, work the land, and take from the land and water all of life’s necessities. In that Creator ordained plan, there is never any requirement or need for the human creature to use mammon. That God ordained lifestyle for us is most important for us to keep in mind as we strive to please God regarding mammon.
“Lord God, please teach me the importance of mammon being unnecessary in the lifestyle that Thou ordained for us human creatures. I pray this for all other people also. Amen.”
I do not believe that God ordained the use of mammon by us human creatures. I do not believe that was ever in His Divine Will for us. I believe that the god of this world, Lucifer, instigated the use of mammon (money) by us fallen, sinful creatures. I believe that mammon is of the devil’s kingdom, the world that God commands us not to love. I believe that from the beginning, God never intended for people to use money, nor to buy and sell.
“Well, Brother Richard, then why did God create gold and silver here in this earth?” I am not sure. The main reason may have been to test us to see if we will choose to serve God or mammon. When you think on all the exciting (and even “good” things) you can do with God-created gold and silver, always keep foremost in your mind this solemn, unchanging Truth; “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” I do not believe that it is a sin against God to work for money, to have money, or to use money to buy and sell. I do not believe that God’s Holy Bible forbids us Christian believers to do those 3 things. But in each of those matters, we touch the “world,” the “world” that God commands us not to love. That is spiritually dangerous. In each of those matters, we are exposed to the attraction, the allurement, and the overwhelming power of mammon. That is spiritually dangerous, causing us to tend to love and desire money, and more money, and more, more, and more of it. And down thru the ages, that love of and desire for money has destroyed a vast multitude of human souls, and it will destroy your life unless you firmly set your heart to do absolutely right regarding mammon. It matters not how good a Christian you are, mammon can still totally destroy you if only you will let it. I believe that when we labor for money, possess money, or use money to buy and sell, that it constitutes serving mammon. And to the degree that we do those 3 things, to that degree we are serving mammon. And to that degree, we are NOT serving God. Doing one negates (prevents, nullifies) the doing of the other. I believe that this is one of the most important things for you to know regarding your Christian walk on this earth. Because, “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”
“Heavenly Father, please teach me and confirm to me the exact truth of these things. Please send Thy Holy Spirit to reveal to me just how much I am serving mammon and show me how to be saved from doing that. Help me to do Thy Perfect Will regarding mammon. I pray this for all other people also. Amen.”
Likely, fallen human creatures started using mammon soon after Adam and Eve were put out of the Garden of Eden by their Creator. It was about 4000 years later when our Creator, Jesus Christ, lived as a man for 33 years on this earth. Carefully reading the four Gospels in the New Testament, and in carefully reading the remainder of the Bible also, I find no record of Christ ever using mammon while here on this earth. Likely He never did. The last 3 years of Christ’s life on earth are often referred to as His earthly ministry. During those 3 years, some people still referred to him as a carpenter. “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary?” (Mark 6:3) Likely Christ grew up helping his carpenter stepfather. He may have continued that work till He started His 3 year ministry. On reaching adulthood, He may have received wages of money for His work. Tho I believe that is likely that He did not receive any wages of money, I cannot be sure of that.
I do believe that Christ had absolutely nothing to do with mammon during His 3 year earthly ministry, never working for it, never possessing it, and never using it to buy and sell. I base that belief on the fact that there is no record anywhere in the entire Bible of Christ doing such. In fact, I believe that my Lord Jesus Christ never even once touched a piece of money during those 3 years. We do have the record of Him having Peter take a piece of money from a fish’s mouth to pay tribute for Christ and Peter, when people questioned Peter about them paying tribute. “Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou has opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.” (Matthew 17:27) (Would that I could pay tribute in the same way.)
This scripture makes it clear that Christ did not touch that coin. Likely He did not even lay eyes on it. He completely kept Himself from mammon.
John 12:6 and 13:29 tell of Judas Iscariot carrying a bag, evidently a moneybag because of what is said of it in those verses. “This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.” (12:6) “For some of them thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, Buy those things that we have need of against the feast; or, that he should give something to the poor.” (13:29) Some people believe that the Lord Jesus set up that arrangement, for the disciples to carry money to purchase necessities and for Judas to be the treasurer. I do not believe that Christ had anything to do with that, because it is not like my Saviour at all. In Luke 9, when Christ sent out the twelve disciples to preach, He commanded them not to carry money. In Luke 10, when He sent out 70 others also, Christ commanded them to carry neither purse nor scrip. Therefore I do not believe that He arranged for the disciples to have a bag of money as they followed Him about. Also, Judas, a thief (John 12:6), came to be the treasurer, the holder of the bag. Because of that fact, I cannot believe this was the doings of my Lord.
When He walked the face of this earth, our Creator God left us a most clear example of never touching mammon. It would behoove us to love this example and, with His Help, strive to follow it.
“Lord Jesus, please help me to understand the importance of this clear example You left to us while here on this earth, that of no record of ever touching a piece of money. Please help me to love that example. Please help me to do Thy Will regarding this matter and to desire to be Christ-like in this matter. I pray this for all other people also. Amen.”
“But, Brother Richard, we can’t live without money!” That is because we are living in the devil’s world instead of on God’s earth. Most of us started out living in the devil’s world because that is what our ancestors down thru the ages had chosen. Each succeeding generation goes deeper into the world, steadily producing fewer and fewer of life’s necessities, (food and raiment), till most every aspect of their lives hinges upon mammon. Money becomes their life. And at that point, the god of this world, Satan, has them right where he wants them, completely entrapped in the trap he has so cunningly laid for them, that of bringing this end time generation into slavery to the anti Christ and making it necessary for people to worship him in order to buy and sell. Let us read about the climax of servitude to mammon.
“And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man, and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.” (Revelation 13:16-18)
In the end time, Satan’s kingdom (the world) will come under the complete control of this beast. He will seek to kill all people who will not worship him. In order to buy and sell, people will have to have the mark, or name, or number of the name of the beast put in their right hand or forehead. Let us read the final fate of all those people. “And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.” (Revelation 14:9-11)
“But Brother Richard, Christ is going to rapture us Christians out of this world before the beast comes into power and requires everyone to worship him and take his mark. Thank God we won’t be here then.” I sure hope you are right about that. But don’t count on it. In 1990, many Christians (including me) firmly believed the time of the rapture was right at the door, and that at the very latest it would occur by the end of the year 2001. We were all absolutely wrong about that. We deceived ourselves and let other Christian teachers and preachers deceive us. May God help us to be ever so cautious about presuming. And if God does mercifully rapture us Christian believers out of this world before the rule of the antichrist becomes all encompassing, think seriously on how sinful it is of you as a Christian to love the world and the things of the world, to love money, and to be doing all you can to earn all the money you can and thereby put much of your life’s efforts in contributing to the building of this kingdom of the beast who will seek to murder all people who will not take his mark and join his kingdom in the very end.
Some Christians believe that because the certainty of the antichrist coming to power is prophesied in the Bible, it is therefore akin to God’s Divine Will and therefore it would be wrong for us to do anything to oppose it. I do not believe that. I believe we should always love that which is right, good, just, holy, and such, and that we should oppose all that is evil and of this world. I understand your feelings of, “But we can’t live without money.” So what you need to do regarding that feeling is to honestly ask yourself, what do you love? Do you love money or God? Had you rather enjoy all the temporary thrills of serving mammon, or had you honestly rather serve God? God knows absolutely everything that is in your heart and mind. He knows where your affections are. You can’t fool Him one bit. So it would greatly behoove you to ask Him to help you to get your heart absolutely right regarding mammon, right now.
“Almighty God, please help me to do that right now. Please help me to get the desires of my heart and mind totally right concerning mammon. I pray this for all other people also. Amen.”
“Take nothing for your journey”
The love of money is extremely destructive to all the human race. When Christians serve mammon, that is extremely detrimental to God’s Work. God’s Holy Scriptures do not forbid us believers to use mammon. In the Old Testament, God commanded tithing, not only of mammon but also of the increase of the land. He promised that in response to their tithing, “Prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” (Malachi 3:10) In the New Testament, Christ commanded, “Give.” And then He promised, “and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” (Luke 6:38) That includes, but is not limited to the giving of mammon. It encompasses all that is in our power to give; time, talents, energy, emotions, resources, and such. Also, Christ commended the poor widow for giving all of the very little money she had. (Mark 12:41-44) Therefore I believe that it is good for Christians to give liberally of all their resources, including mammon, to God. And as we do so cheerfully, in return we can expect God to greatly bless us in many ways for having done so. Having said that, I now want to look at the other side of the coin.
God’s Work here on this earth, carried on by us human servants, is not basically to be founded upon, built on, and carried along on mammon. Basically, God’s work is not accomplished by means of buildings, their furnishings, equipment, literature, and the many other things (mostly things of the world) that we purchase with mammon. That is because God’s Work here is a spiritual work. It is a living work carried on by Christian believers in whom God’s Holy Spirit dwells and whom God calls “lively stones…built up a spiritual house.” (I Peter 2:5) We believers are living vessels in which the Holy Spirit dwells to empower us to do that spiritual work which God has ordained we do in this life. The work we believers do for God while here on earth is to mainly be accomplished through our living beings, our bodies, souls, and spirits. Mammon is totally unnecessary to accomplish this spiritual work. Our Lord Jesus gave us that clear example all the time that He ministered here upon this earth in the form of human flesh, by never touching mammon. Therefore mammon should never be our focus in serving God, because “ye cannot serve God and mammon.”
As time passes, the kingdom of the devil (the world) grows in power and steadily encompasses more and more of our life making us more dependent on money in our “secular” lives. That influence readily spills over into the work we do for God, so that when planning any spiritual endeavor often our first thought is, “Where will I get the money to do that?” God’s Work suffers greatly when that comes to be our foremost thought concerning it.
“Lord God, please teach me fully the grave importance of what is being said here. I pray this for all other people also. Amen.”
Prosperity and habitual use of much money makes us into sinfully proud and haughty Christians. In 1985 when I was on furlough in the U.S., as I visited with a pastor friend in Memphis, Tennessee, he took me to 2 or 3 churches, introduced me to the pastors and showed me the elaborate (even somewhat luxurious) auditoriums of those churches. Commenting on that, this pastor said, “Nowadays, you just about cannot get people to come to church without such nice buildings.” I know the truth of that. Long gone are the days when Americans will sit on a hard, wood bench under an old-fashioned brush arbor with sawdust or wood shavings covering the ground under it to listen to old-fashioned preaching. But I also know the truth of a more important fact regarding this matter. Neither will such spoiled Christians take the Gospel message to a steaming jungle, going there on a long canoe trip up a river to a remote place with no modern comforts. Neither will they take those precious Gospel seeds to a hot, dry desert where they will have only 1 small pan of bath water each day and a simple open tent for a church instead of a beautiful air-conditioned million dollar church building. And the descendents of those spoiled Christians will naturally be more spoiled, and therefore will absolutely refuse to go anywhere for God unless it is totally upon a flowery bed of luxurious ease.
The condition of air-conditioning was unknown on this earth for almost 6,000 years. But now many people cannot live without it in all the buildings and vehicles they use. Many churches spend more on air-conditioning than they spend on foreign missions. Their Christians will not sit in church without it, and soon they and their descendents will not go anywhere in the world to preach the Gospel unless there are comfortable air-conditioned and heated buildings and vehicles. Serving mammon and having much use of it spoils us and turns us from being a profitable servant into a liability in God’s Work. So nowadays, in laboring for our Master, most every work we consider starting is propositioned by the question, “Where and how will we get the money for it?” In doing so, to that extent and degree, we are serving mammon instead of serving God. With God’s Help, we must buffet ourselves against this. May God save us from servitude to mammon. “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”
“Heavenly Father, teach me the importance of the fact that God’s Work on this earth is spiritual in nature and is not carried upon the power of mammon. Teach me the importance of serving Thee with my living being that Thou hast created. Save me from serving mammon as I serve Thee, and save me thinking I must first accumulate mammon in order to do a work for Thee. I pray this for all other people also. Amen.”
Servitude to mammon in a Christian ministry is commonly most clearly manifested in the “foreign missionary.” The missionary organization he or she joins typically requires them to first go on deputation to raise financial support; tens of thousands of dollars to transport them and their earthly goods to the foreign country and to get settled down there, and thousands of dollars pledged in monthly support before the mission board will allow the missionary family to depart on their mission’s journey. If the missionary fails to raise the required support, then the mission authorities will not allow them to set out on their mission’s journey. Thus they require the missionary to be disobedient to our Lord’s commands in Luke 9 and 10.
“Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick. And he said unto them, Take nothing for your journey, neither staves nor script, neither bread, neither money; neither have 2 coats apiece.” (Luke 9:1-3) After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come. Therefore said he unto them…Carry neither purse, nor script, nor shoes.” (Luke 10:1-4) Those 12 disciples and other 70 servants showed their faith in their Lord by obeying those commands. This is a perfect example for us. May we acknowledge that and always readily go where He commands and leads us to go without first serving mammon to cover long term needs. “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” (Matthew 6:34)
Those 12 disciples and then those 70 believers showed their faithful obedience to their Lord by going out without taking anything for their journey. This is in keeping with Romans 14:23, “For whatsoever is not of faith is sin,” and with Hebrews 11:6, “But without faith it is impossible to please him.” Many Christian “ministers” start out their ministry with a sinful lack of faith, making it impossible for them to please their Lord. And then years down the road, they wonder why they made shipwreck so quickly or wonder why their work accomplished so little. “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”
Later on, the Lord asked those 12 and 70 to report on how they had fared by taking nothing for their journey. “And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and script, and shoes, lacked ye anything? And they said, Nothing.” (Luke 22:35) What a glorious testimony. What a wonderful, gracious, caring Lord He is to see to it that they lacked nothing. Our Lord is the same God today as He was then. His Almighty Power has not waned one bit. He will readily see to it that we lack nothing on our missionary journey if only we will have the courage to allow Him to do so. Our sinful lack of faith in Him is what makes us afraid to follow Him, taking nothing for our journey. When He leads you to do anything anywhere in this world for Him, and He clearly guides you to take nothing for your journey, you have no need at all to balk or to be hesitant. Know that “he is faithful that promised.” (Hebrews 10:23) How dare we serve mammon instead of Him? Let us each purpose in our hearts to serve Him and not mammon.
“Lord Jesus, please help me to do that. Increase my faith. Forgive my sin of unbelief and help me to be strong in faith. When you command and lead me, help me to never balk by first giving thoughts to serving mammon. Help me to have the courage to readily follow Thee unreservedly. Please give me the assurance that I will lack nothing because I am in the Hands of a loving, gracious, caring God. I pray this for all other people also. Amen.”
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness”
After I came to Japan in 1973 in the U.S. military, my Lord clearly led me to stay here after that to proclaim Christ to these heathen Japanese idol worshippers. God clearly led me not to return to my homeland at that time, not to appeal to any Christians (or to anyone) for financial help, but to simply remain here without any income at the start. He also told me to never make financial needs known to other human creatures, but to trust in Him for all things. My Lord strongly impressed upon me the importance of both His command and promise in Matthew 6:33. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” What a wonderful promise of security this is. If only we will first and foremost seek His kingdom, He will supply all our needs. May He help us believers to truly believe that promise and act upon it.
I praise God and give Him the glory that He gave me the faith to obey Him in His missionary calling to me. And from the very start, I gave the entire burden of the supply of my daily needs to the Lord. I cannot find the words to adequately describe what a relief it is not to have that burden to bear. May God help all us Christians to be totally obedient to this command and to totally believe this generous promise in Matthew 6:33. Believing that promise does not mean we will sit idle and wait for God to rain manna from Heaven for us to eat. The Apostle Paul gives us the example of a minister “making tents” to obtain his daily needs. But believing and trusting in this promise of God does mean that we will first and foremost look to God for our supply. From the very start, Genesis 3, God ordained that man labor to gain his physical needs of food and raiment. Paul’s “tent making” is in according with God ordaining that we labor to earn our necessities. (By the way, that detracts nothing from Paul declaring in Philippians 4:19 that “my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”) But I believe that appealing to people for money to be used for ministering in our Lord’s Name is not in God’s Will at all. “The just shall live by faith.” “But without faith it is impossible to please him.” “For whatsoever is not of faith is sin.”
Shortly before getting discharged from the U.S. military here in Japan in mid-February 1975, I did write letters to family members and friends back in the U.S. telling them of God’s calling, of my decision to stay in Japan, and asked them to pray for me and the missionary work God had called me to do. That announcement was a tremendous shock to most of them and most of them puzzled over the question of how I would live. Several of them wrote to me and bluntly asked me that question. I replied that I was trusting in God to supply all my needs according to His riches in glory. That answer seemed to shock and stun most of them even more. I praise God for giving me that testimony that gave much glory to Him. God clearly told me not to appeal for finances nor to make financial needs known to other people, but rather to bring these matters to Him alone. “Ask, and it shall be given you.”
From the start, I used the money I had (savings). For the first 3 months, I received no financial offerings from anyone. The 4th month, two friends each sent me an offering saying God had laid it on their hearts to do so. I thank God that He laid that matter on their hearts instead of me doing it. Those 2 offerings in my fourth month as a missionary were the first ones to come in, and they totaled US $60. From then on offerings came in each month and increased somewhat as God spoke to other Christians to help me. During my first year as a missionary, God laid it on the hearts of Christian friends to give me a total of US $752. I started my missionary journey by studying Japanese in a missionary language school here in Japan. So in addition to my thrifty living expenses, language school fees quickly ate away at my savings so they were all used up in less than a year. The next 10 years were very lean financially. But I can truly and honestly say along with Christ’s servants in Luke 22:35 that I lacked nothing.
Being most thrifty, usually enough offerings came in to cover my basic needs, food, clothing, room rent, and utilities. But sometimes I would not eat for a few days or weeks in order to pay language school tuition. And then after finishing language school, at times I would forego eating in order to use that money to purchase Bibles and Christian literature to give to lost Japanese who needed the Bread of Life so badly.
“Well Brother Richard, it certainly sounds like God was not supplying all your needs if you went for days and weeks without eating.” Oh yes He most certainly was. One of the greatest needs of modern day, fat, glutinous, food worshipping, whose god is their belly Christians, is for those sinful, idolatrous Christians to forego eating for a few days or weeks. On one occasion, people asked Christ why His disciples did not fast. “And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast.” (Matthew 9:15) The bridegroom has been taken away. Are you a disciple of His? If so, are you fasting? If not, why not? When I had no money to buy food, God was supplying my need to fast. Amen.
Be ever so careful, my Christian friend, because we are ever so prone to readily and willingly deceive ourselves regarding what we truly need. I believe that right now God looks down on Christian believers and sees that one of the greatest needs they have is the need to FAST. He sees multitudes of idolaters who sinfully worship their own bellies, Christians included, who weigh 2 to 3 times what God ordained their body weight to be. Thus He sees their need to fast. And He will readily supply that need for us, if only we will let Him. May each of us allow God to supply this need in our own life.
Upon receiving “things” from the Philippians, Paul declared, “I have all, and abound.” (4:18) Then in the next verse he goes on to say, “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Both of those declarations are accurate and true. However this same Paul spoke of being “in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.” (II Corinthians 11:27) There are absolutely no contradictions in these “opposing” conditions. Paul well knew that we Christian believers sometimes “need” sufferings, hardships, trials, hunger, and such, just as much as we need food, clothing, and other such necessities and comforts.
Even perfect, sinless Christ while here on this earth, “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered.” (Hebrews 5:8) So much more so, we sinful human creatures have a great need to suffer in order to learn obedience and to grow into spiritually mature soldiers of the cross and thereby be useful to our Lord in His Work here on earth.
Perfect and upright Job declared, “I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.” (Job 23:12) In a similar vein, when God called me to take nothing for my journey and go preach Christ to lost, heathen, idol worshipping Japanese, I give God the glory that I esteemed it more necessary for those lost, Hell bound souls to receive God’s words of eternal life, than for me to have food to eat every day or every week. When you think upon life’s “necessities” and what is “necessary” for you, and think up God promising to supply all your “needs,” make dead sure you get your priorities in correct order in accordance to God’s Holy Scriptures and thereby not deceive yourself regarding what you truly need.
Something else that prosperous Christians stand in dire need of is a heart of thanksgiving. Uninterrupted prosperity and riches rob the heart of thanksgiving and of a thankful spirit. The richer people become, the less thankful they become, both to God and to man. Riches spoil people, making them think they deserve the whole world on a silver platter. Take note of how thankless prosperous people generally are. It is tragic to see children quickly become thankless and selfish when showered from birth on with many “thing” by prosperous parents. But let poverty strike, taking away most all possessions and even bringing on hunger, and watch how that person typically becomes thankful for the least little blessings.
A thankless heart poisons like bitter gall and eventually destroys its owner. Think on how unpleasant people are who are void of thanksgiving. Most of us just do not want to be around them. I do not care to be around people at all who do not have a thankful heart. Many times throughout His Holy Bible, God commands us to be thankful and to give thanks. We should constantly shower prayers of thanksgiving upon our Creator God Who gives us all things richly to enjoy and Who daily loadeth us with benefits. We should quickly and readily thank the people around us for each kind word and deed they bestow upon us, no matter how small. Many modern day people stand in need of a thankful spirit. And our gracious, loving God Who supplies all our needs according to His riches in glory, will gladly supply our need of a thankful spirit by sending dire poverty our way, which tends to quickly create a thankful heart in most anyone.
When I first started fasting, upon ending a fast, I found that when I gave thanks for the food before me, that my head just naturally bowed lower and my heart truly gave forth thanksgiving for that food before me, more sincerely than I had ever done before. God sees our dire need to have a thankful heart and spirit. And dire poverty will fill that need as quickly as anything. Praise God for His Infinite Wisdom and for always supplying what we truly need instead of our many babyish, selfish wants.
“Heavenly Father, please help me to get my priorities in order with Thy Scriptures and allow Thy Word and Thy Holy Spirit to teach me of the things I truly need. Knowing that Christ learned obedience by the things that He suffered, help me to truly acknowledge that such is even more necessary for me. Teach me the necessity of fasting to qualify as a disciple of Thine and to have Spiritual power upon my earthly ministry for Thee. Teach me how lacking I am of a spirit of thanksgiving. Teach me what all is “needful” and “necessary” to bring me into spiritual maturity and to make me into a useful vessel for Thy work. Help me not to balk at the pain and suffering that will be necessary to have all my spiritual needs supplied and to bring me into spiritual maturity that will greatly glorify Thee. I pray this for all other people also. Amen.”
May God work in each of our lives to make us truly content with having only food and raiment. Why should we think our own selves greater than our Saviour Who was content with only food and raiment during His stay on this earth??? “The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord.” (Matthew 10:24-25) That is what God has decreed to be. So why do you set your own selfish self up as a greater god than your Almighty Creator and demand a life of uninterrupted comforts while in His service? At times you even tend to portray the attitude that God was most fortunate to get someone as great as you to serve Him. Often dire poverty and hardships are needed to cure such sinful, vain pride and self glory in us creatures.
Young Christian, I exhort you to be a most useful servant to your Lord by not serving mammon. God doesn’t promise us earthly riches. And if He calls you into a “full time ministry,” likely at the start He will provide little more than food and clothing on purpose, for the purpose of teaching you many valuable and “necessary things.” When that happens, don’t grumble and complain. But rather rejoice and declare, “When he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10)
Be willing to go anywhere in the world He leads you to go without taking anything for your journey. Be content with only the most basic necessities. Be content to live in 1 or 2 small rooms and rejoice with thanksgiving that you have a roof over your head. Be willing to do your laundry by hand, in a stream, or washtub, or sink, and hang it out to dry. When you are hungry with no food and no money, pray thusly as your Lord taught thee to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” He has promised to supply all your needs according to His riches in glory. And “He is faithful that promised.” So if you are doubtful regarding that, then first repent of your sin of unbelief before praying for your daily bread. Be content with 2 small meals a day. Be content with inexpensive, plain clothing. Be content to walk or ride a bicycle. I did not have a car my first 9 years or so in Japan and what a beneficial experience that was for me. The first 3 years I didn’t even have a bicycle. I walked short distances and rode trains longer distances. Be willing to walk. That was the main way Christ moved around on this earth. So what is wrong with being Christ like in that area and not being above your Master? Cry out to your Lord to deliver you from being a spoiled, worthless, spiritually immature brat and to put you through sufficient fire and water to make you into a mature, useful and profitable servant for His Glory.
I believe that God ordains that we serve Him primarily with our living being (our person) as opposed to serving Him with things that mammon can buy. We are lively stones, living vessels of God’s Holy Spirit, and lighthouses from whence His marvelous light shines. When I started out as a missionary, I had very little money to buy literature to give to people and I seldom had a building to preach in. I would walk the streets, stopping every 15 steps or so to preach a short sermon to the people around, often for hours a day till my voice gave out and sometimes when I hadn’t eaten for days or for weeks. I well learned that I did not need mammon to preach Christ on a foreign mission field. I had a God given message in my heart and a God created voice with which to proclaim it. I had a God given burden for the many lost souls around me. I had raiment to wear and enough food for nourishment. That was enough. My needs were met. “I have all, and abound.” What a RICH testimony.
Our foremost thought should be that of serving God with our being (our person), not that of first accumulating mammon in order to have its power in our lives of service. When God first calls a believer (especially a young one) to do a specific work/ministry for Him, I believe it is common for God to desire to keep that servant financially poor for a period of time (possibly a lifetime) as most beneficial training for him. May God help you not to rebel against that, feel sorry for yourself, complain to God and everyone about it who will listen to your pitiful, miserable griping that robs God of glory. Quit yourself like a man, and praise God for being so gracious to you to give you that calling and for allowing unworthy you to serve Him.
“For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.” (II Corinthians 8:9) Christ willing became poor for your sake to save you from an eternal Hell of fire and brimstone and to allow you, instead, to enjoy the riches and splendor of Heaven forever. You are eternally rich because Christ chose to become poor for your sake. Therefore you should joyfully be willing to be like Him and be poor for the sake of bringing many other lost souls into the eternal riches of Christ. This principle is most important; our physical poverty will make us and many others spiritually rich.
What a privilege to be poor for that purpose! Rejoice and zealously serve your King to the utmost of your ability, doing everything for God you can do with your living being, without using mammon. And each time God allows some mammon to be bestowed upon you, receive it with thanksgiving and humility, always bearing in mind that it tends to be a curse more than it tends to be a blessing.
Touching mammon inevitably exposes one to its allurement, attraction, and power, which naturally tends to cause one to love it, desire it, and then to covet and serve it. Ministers of God are as prone, or possibly even more prone, to go wrong regarding mammon, as they are prone to go wrong regarding anything else. It is most tragic and detrimental to God’s work that when any common person thinks about Christian ministers, often the first thought that comes to mind is that preachers are people who want money. Sinfully refusing to live by faith, many ministers loudly broadcast their financial needs and desires to anyone and everyone they can. “I need money. I want money. I want your money.” What a deplorable testimony. “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”
This deplorable, detestable sin of serving mammon leads straight to the awful sin of covetousness. While I was on furlough in the States in 1985, a pastor in North Carolina came to know of me (likely by reading my books) and invited me to preach at his church on a Sunday night. I had never met him in person before I arrived there shortly before church time on Sunday evening. Therefore I would not expect him to share with me most anything and everything in his heart, like one would readily share with a long-time, close friend. But as he and I greeted the people as they entered the church, he took me aside out of hearing from the others and excitedly said something like this to me. “You see that man there? He is not a member of this church. He is not a church member anywhere. He rarely attends church. And he’s got money!” (Of course, that last statement meant that the man had “much” money.)
It would behoove that pastor to be concerned about that unchurched man’s eternal well being instead of filling his mind with thoughts of that man’s pile of money. I do not know what was on that pastor’s mind when he said that. I have no ability to judge another’s motives. Also God’s word forbids me from doing that. But when that pastor exclaimed to me (just a few minutes after first meeting me), “he’s got money!” I prayed that God would save me from and keep me from the terrible, selfish sin of coveting other people’s money or anything they own. I do not want to face Almighty God in Judgment, having served mammon during this life instead of serving Him. I do not want to face Him, having coveted other people’s money and having begged them for it. I truly want to first seek the kingdom of God and His Righteousness and let God give unto me that which He deems I need, fasting, hunger, poverty, or whatever. Please pray for me that I will do this. I pray that you will do that also.
“Lord God, I beg Thee to save and keep me from the awful sins of serving mammon and coveting other people’s money and things. Teach me fully just how detrimental such sins are to Thy work and save me from such sins, I pray. I pray this for Brother Richard and for all other people also. Amen.”
(This is the end of Chapter 8 of Creature Versus Creator.)