I once heard from a sociologist that a person in the Western world spends about 80 percent of his or her awake time engaged with money: earning it, spending it, or dreaming about it. So while money is a tool for us to use, if we’re not careful, it’s easy for the “love of money” to become a godlike, idolatrous force in our lives. Author and theologian Richard Foster wrote in his book The Challenge of the Disciplined Life that “giving frees us from the tyranny of money.”
Foster went on to say, “Just the very act of letting go of money, or some other treasure, does something within us. It destroys the demon greed.” And it has been said, “If you’re enslaved by greed, you cannot lead.”
Foster said that if we don’t learn how to control money, it will control us because it is so seductive. This marks the distinction between money and mammon. Money—when it controls us—is no longer a tool but instead becomes godlike and, thus, mammon in our lives. And so, we have to ask ourselves the question: Do we control money or does it control us?
“Jesus Christ and all the writers of the New Testament call us to break free of the mammon lust and live in joyous trust,” Foster says in his book Freedom in Simplicity. “They point us toward a way of living in which everything we have we receive as a gift, and everything we have is cared for by God, and everything we have is available to others when it is right and good. This reality frames the heart of Christian simplicity. It is the means of liberation and power to do what is right and to overcome the forces of fear and avarice.”Instead of having those things rule us, we need to pursue and practice a theology of generosity, simplicity, and contentment.
* When has money become godlike in your personal life? What are some ways you can break the hold that money has over you starting today?