Thursday, 21 January 2016

Trusting in What One Sees is itself to trust in Mammon

The world trusts only what it can see. It lives by sight, not by faith for it is unrighteous and knows not God. It is the righteous live by faith, that is, the true Church (Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38). However, the Church, who is the body of true followers of Christ, can fall into sin, including the sin of unbelief, which is a lack of trust in God. 

Matthew 14:29-31 gives one such example. In Matthew 14:29-31, Peter was fearful of walking on water even when Jesus told him to, because he lacked faith: And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.  But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?

Many in the modern Church are truly under the spirit of mammon. What this means is not that they have no faith in God, for they would be unsaved if that were so. No, what it means is that they are trusting in mammon in part, while seeking to trust in God.  They think that one can serve both God and mammon. Do not dare think that it is impossible for a true convert to be under the spirit of mammon. The manifestations of such people is clear in all their talk about "needing" resources to help people, having "enough" money, and calling the money one possesses as one's own, instead of acknowledging that it is God's and God's alone. 

The Church of today is full of such people. They include people who are active in their local church, theologically sound, orthodox and evangelical. They may even read their Bible regularly. Indeed, most of these mammonised Christians are 'conservative', orthodox, evangelical and devoted to their families. They use their need to care for their family as per 1 Timothy 5:8 which says "but if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel" as an excuse to trust mammon, all without even realising it.

So, what is meant by trusting in mammon in the case of a true convert? Instead of trusting in God alone, and God alone, he also seeks to trust in the earthy things. To trust in mammon does not just mean to trust in riches. No! As long as one is trusting in anything earthly and temporal, including placing one's trust in the ability to obtain basic needs, such as food, water and shelter, one trusting mammon. That itself is a manifestation of trusting mammon. You may say, "doesn't everyone trust in such things". Yes, that is exactly why Jesus had to tell even His followers in Matthew 6:31-34: 

Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles [pagans in the NIV] seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

The context in which Jesus commanded His followers to take no thought of food, drink and clothing, which He describes as the things which the world, earthly, fleshly people are concerned, was the context in which He was commanding them not to serve both God and mammon. The verses preceding Matthew 6:26-34 were Jesus is commanding, not suggesting, or advising, but commanding His followers to not be anxious for any earthy thing, including food, water and clothing say:

 No man 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. Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? (Matthew 6:24-25).

This is precisely the context in which He is telling His followers not be an anxious for the earthly needs, not wants, but needs. It is not only that one should not be anxious for one's earthly wants, but that one should not even think about being anxious for one's earthly needs. Many people in the modern Church love to quote only Matthew 6:25-34, but not Matthew 6:24 which says: "No man 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". They love to talk about how gracious God has been to them in providing all their needs, which is true. However, this is only half the truth. 

Jesus was saying in Matthew 6:24-34 that one cannot seek both God and mammon because one will not be able to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33 as indicated by the disjunctive verb 'but' connecting having one's needs met, and seeking first God's righteousness). He was rebuking the faithlessness of such people, not telling them God will provide because they 'deserved' it, or 'worked' for it, so that they have earned it. No! He was telling them to seek first the righteousness of God because that is what the food of the true convert is. 

Just as Jesus' food was to do the will of God, as He said "My meat is to do the will of Him that sent me, and to finish his work" (John 4:34), the food of the true convert is to do the will of God. He provides out of His grace, which means not only is what He gives undeserved, but that one cannot earn what He gives. This includes God's provision of one's earthly needs (Matthew 5:45). Not only is one not entitled to any food, drink or shelter at all, but that God has right to starve all of us to death, and ensure that a person has no shelter in His judgment. 

God's provision to the true believer in Matthew 6:24-34 is conditional in that He provides to show care for those who seek first His righteousness and Kingdom, in the true sense. This is not spoken to the unbeliever, but only the believer which is significant in itself. It indicates that God provides in the way described in Matthew 6:33 is only applicable to those who satisfy the condition of seeking first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness.  At the same time, it is unconditional in that it is not earned and given out of His grace, for the ability to be righteous is given by grace. 

Trusting in what one sees, even to the slightest is to not trust God. It is to trust in mammon. This is precisely the manifestation of many in the modern Church being under the spirit of mammon. However, such a manifestation is not that simple. It is very subtle, manifesting in the double-mindedness of many in the Church, in thinking that both God and oneself in one's own flesh, can provide.