I was assigned to lead our cell group sharing this week. The verse above was the topic for this week sharing. Hence, this post is mainly about what I shared to the group. When I ponder about the essence of the text, this passage speaks about our attitude toward wealth. In the context of their original language, “Good eye” literally means singleness, a clear focused eye. It also could be translated as generosity. This could read as a single-mindedness of purpose or an all-consuming passion for Jesus in the context of using our wealth. We are free to use our money for God and others.
Whereas, “Bad eye” means stingy and jealousy. This illustrates that if our heart loves material things, it is similar to a blurry vision. It cannot see things clearly thus swayed toward other things than God. It drives us to use our money for self-seeking pleasures as well as become irritable when seeing other people succeed in attaining wealth more than we currently have. Jesus warned us about the singleness of purpose in life. What we aim for, what we are saving for, what we are building for? This drives any other thing in our life.
It is true in our life than we cannot have two focus. No country can live with 2 kings. No house can run with 2 queens and no one can strike two nails with one hammer. The word “serve” here must not be perceived as serving someone at personal will, but should be read as “enslaved”, whether we are willing or not. This what makes Mammon dangerous.
What is Mammon? It is the personification of greed over money, wealth riches, worldly goods or material things in this life. Money itself is not evil, but the lure that it may bring is. It is so dangerous because it is so useful in our life. “Money is a good servant, but a cruel master.” It could enslave our heart, mind and will. Whatever we say or do may rotate around it. In fact, It is the only thing that make God appears so jealous in the bible as if it is so powerful over us.
God knows the nature of our heart (Jer 17:9). He knows our inclination to worship something that can make us feel secure or happy. Especially, money as it seems that wealth is easy to control. It is a FALSE security. Whereas, our heart is tricky where greed can easily turn things around. In fact, when lust taken over and darken the eyes of our heart, it enslaves us. It also ignites our imagination that as if it has the power similar to what God has. Money can feed the hungry, can help healing the sick, entertain the sad make needs sufficient. Thus, it is easy for us to forget that God is the One who we need more. Israelites were recorded as a group of people who were so easy being forgetful about God’s goodness even after witnessing miracles after miracles (Exo 32). They forget when they don’t see the existence of God in front of their eyes. So do we. We can easily forget God’s power in the face of our needs. Hence, we sacrifice our time with God more to seek money.
Paul says in his letter to Timothy that love of money drives people to all kind of evil and torture the soul of a man’s heart, thus strayed away from faith (1 Tim 6:9-10). Even in today’s situation, the temptation is even greater. Peer pressure for social status drives us to work harder, to have more money, so that we can buy more things that we may not need. This kills our faith. God provides the water to satisfy our thirst that we need, but we often choose water from sewage (Jer 2:13).
During my recent trip to Las Vegas, I observed that casinos were always crowded. I heard that one of the casino’s strategy is to make the price of food and accommodation cheap. At the end, people might spend more on casinos than they have, all in a vain pursuit to have more money to buy more things in those abundant luxurious stores. It is a move to stir our confidence to make us feel that we have more money than we actually have. This is the nature of our heart. Self-indulgent and proud.
At the end, It is not about how rich you are in material, but how rich you are as a person. The amount of wealth a person posses does not determine how happy he is. Now I have more money than when I studied in college, but sometimes I miss those days when I was worry free. We are rich if we have love. Especially, the love from our savior that dies for us.
What is the cure?
1. Remember that what is eternal outweighs the temporal (2 Cor 4:18).
We cannot bring what we have when we die. Just like accumulating wealth on a board game, it all goes back into the box after the game finishes. We need to focus our attention to the eternity and realize that our temporary sixty to eighty years time on this earth means nothing to the infinity we have with God.
2. Meaning in our life is in God.
Labor in the Lord is not vain (1 Cor 15:58). Only what we did for the purpose of God’s mission is meaningful. Things that we do to glorify God is the things that count. Measure your life with heavenly riches.
3. Make heavenly investments (Matt 6:20-21).
We have to learn to loose our grip on material wealth. Then only we can grip on the true riches in this life. Start spending money to advance or proclaim His glory. Your tithe to the church testifies that He is alive.
Love of money is bad and evil. However, if we believe and surrender to Jesus, we can definitely conquer it. Before redemption, we are helpless to conquer over the love of money. After it, God releases us from the bondage. The truth frees up our heart to love the true source of life, Jesus Himself. We are liberated from a slave of sin to a slave of righteousness (Rom 6:18).
As a concluding remarks, please see the two contrasting story about the loser & winner over wealth: Luke 18:23-25 & 19:8-10. The rich young ruler was sad when confronted with the fact that to have Jesus in his life means let loose every material possession he had. In contrast, Zaccheus surrender his wealth only because he welcomes Jesus in his heart and have joy from it.
Trust in Jesus, our Jehovah Jireh, that He cares for us and will provide the materials that we need. Just like the birds in the air and the beauty of lilies on the field (Matt 6:25-34). Amen.