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The Mammon Games

• Greg Boyd

Jesus taught us to be aware of the trap of money and greed. In this sermon, Greg applies Jesus’ words to today’s situation so that we might escape this mammon game and entrust our money to God.

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Mammon is not a word that refers only to cash. It’s whatever counts as winning at the world’s game. We see this in the words of John in his first letter: “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.” (1 John 2: 15-16). The world is what tempts our flesh so that we can win at what the world sees of value.  This is chasing after “mammon,” the mammon game.

This is the game of striving to have your best life now, getting your slice of the American dream, and climbing that ladder of success. Of course we need a sufficient retirement fund and an emergency fund stored up in case the economy turns south. However, we are often like rats chasing cheese on a treadmill, spending our precious short lives chasing after the stuff that the world views as important.

The pull of the mammon game is subtle and deceptive. It is the easiest thing to fall into its trap without knowing it. We who live in consumeristic cultures must remain aware that we live in a context that is perpetually trying to get us to be discontent with what we have. We are conditioned to chase after more.

Jesus spoke about this in Luke 12:13-21. His response highlights the importance of being on our  guard against all kinds of greed. And since those to whom Jesus spoke were extremely poor, how much more should we be diligent against such greed today!

Jesus also told a parable about the man who saved up for the future and then suddenly died. He was not “rich towards God” even though he was rich in wealth. He was a perfect capitalist, quite normal according to today’s standards. The problem was not the money he made, but the fact that he cut out God from the equation and he did not consider others at all. He was only concerned about how his wealth would benefit himself.

As Jesus followers we are called to be disciplined by Christ to seek God’s direction for what he wants to do with our money, according to the law of love. Buying more and saving up is not the ultimate goal. God invites us to submit our money to him and follow his direction so that we might grow in the character of love.

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Sermon Series: Sermon on the Mount, Treasure Hunters

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Focus Scripture:

  • Matthew 6:24

    “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

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