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Mammon (Money) and God


Mammon is an Aramaic word for wealth or property. According to Jesus, one’s obsession with money is in contrast to the loyalty to God. He said, “No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (Mt 6:24).

Jesus used examples from the life experiences of ordinary people to teach the Theological and spiritual values. When slavery was rampant, a slave worked for his own master unless sold to another. He could not be under two owners simultaneously. In modern times, an employee cannot serve two employers or firms during the same period because both would suspect him. He can be in trouble in case of a conflict between employers accusing him of spying or acting as an agent of the other.

It is natural that if an employee serves two employers, he might find favour with one rather than the other and his loyalty can be conflicting. In our spiritual life, our worldly goals can contradict with our heavenly aim. Paul wrote from his pastoral experience, “Am I now currying favour with human beings or God? Or am I seeking to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a slave of Christ” (Gal 1:10).


Greed for money has an association with evil like injustice, exploitation, bribery, crime, pride, immorality, and dishonesty. God wants our undivided fidelity and love towards Him. The first commandment God gave to the Israelites through Moses was to avoid idolatry. “You shall not have other gods beside me” (Ex 20:3).

The conflict here is not between God and wealth, but the attitude of a person towards God and wealth. The resources of this world belong to God. Instead of making use of them for the glory of God and for the welfare of others, if one is keeping all he could attain as treasure for himself, he will consider wealth as his god and rely on it instead of God. He will seek only the happiness, influence, popularity, and power of this world. Out of his greed for money, he might exploit others and resort to injustice. Thus, he will be in spiritual darkness.

Jesus who taught, “where your treasure is, there also your heart will be” (Mt 6:21), told the official who wanted to be perfect, “There is still one thing left for you: sell all that you have and distribute it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me” (Lk 18:22). Reliance on wealth and finding enjoyment in it with no care for others was the failure of the rich man and his five brothers in the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus. Though this rich man had treasure on earth, he lost everything at his death, and he had nothing for his afterlife, whereas Lazarus, who relied entirely on God, found his treasure in heaven.

When Jesus went to the house of Zacchaeus, the latter “stood there and said to the Lord, ‘Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor, and if I have extorted anything from anyone I shall repay it four times over.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house because this man too is a descendant of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost’” (Lk 19:8-10). When Zacchaeus was greedy for wealth, he did not care about the poor and did injustice to others. When he came to love Jesus, he became a different person, compensating for the injustice done, and voluntarily helping the poor. Thus, he found God as his treasure and became a lover of God by renouncing all greed for wealth.

A follower of Jesus must rely on divine providence while working for the kingdom of God. Jesus instructed the apostles and his seventy-two disciples to carry nothing with them except the essentials during their missionary journey (Mt 10:9-10; Lk 10:4). They lacked nothing when they followed Jesus’ instruction (Lk 22:35) because the people whom they served took care of their needs. However, Jesus asked them to take more items with them when they went to unwelcoming areas (Lk 22:36-37).

Paul wrote on the danger of greed for wealth, “Indeed, religion with contentment is a great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, just as we shall not be able to take anything out of it. If we have food and clothing, we shall be content with that. Those who want to be rich are falling into temptation and into a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all evil, and some people in their desire for it have strayed from the faith and have pierced themselves with many pains” (1 Tim 6:6-10).

The man rich in possessions is poor in spiritual resources and vice versa. Though rich people offered large amounts in the Temple treasury, Jesus complimented a poor widow who offered only two small coins (Mk 12:41-44).

The obstacles for the rich to enter the Kingdom of Heaven are the evils attached to wealth. They might include injustice, avarice, exploitation, selfishness, pride, luxury, self-centeredness, lack of compassion for the less fortunate, avoidance of God, and self-reliance. The rich can overcome these only with self- determination and the grace of God.

The Jews, including the disciples, believed that heaven was for the wealthy because God was pleased to provide them excess riches than necessary for their livelihood. According to proverbs 10:22, “It is the LORD’s blessing that brings wealth, and no effort can substitute for it.” People believed that heaven was for such blessed individuals and not for the less fortunate who were suffering because of their sins or of their ancestors. The normal passion of the people is to increase their wealth and enjoy life. If such people would not enter heaven, then most people will lose eternal joy.

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