In 1 Timothy 6, Paul covers everything from slaves honoring their masters, to false teaching, to righteous living, and a large section on how to handle money. Either way, Paul’s wrapping up his letter and Timothy, as well as us, needs to be paying attention.
In his book, “The Blessed Life”, Robert Morris shares an incredible teaching about our inability to serve two masters; God and money (or mammon).
It’s in Matthew 6 that we read these words from Jesus, 24 “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money (mamónas). (NLT)
Here’s something interesting, the word “money” appears in the bible 113 times, but Jesus didn’t use the word money here. He actually used the word “mammon,” and to take that a step further, this is only thing Jesus said you can’t serve both God and this. We don’t have this anywhere else in the entire bible.
So what it “mammon?” Mammon is an Aramaic word that simply means “riches, money, possessions, or property.” You also need to know that Mammon is a spirit. Mammon is the spirit, the false god of riches that Jesus is referring to in these passages. Again, His listeners would have understood that when He used the word mammon, he was referring to the Assyrian false god of riches.
You also need to know, Mammon is sneaky. Mammon promises us the things that only God can give us. Think about what Mammon promises…
- Security: If you had more money you’ll be secure.
- Identity: If you had more money people will listen to you.
- Freedom: If you had more money you could go where you want, when you want, and do what you want.
- Happiness: If you had more money you’d be happy, you’d have a good marriage, and people would respect you.
Hear me: Mammon promises you everything, but delivers nothing!
The Greek translates it to mamónas. The biblical scholar Joseph Henry Thayer says, mammon is a term for, “the treasure a person trusts in.”
Paul would tell us here in 1 Timothy 6:17 (NLT) 17 Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment.
Now before you check out and say, “well, that’s talking about “rich people” and I’m not a rich person,” reality check… unless this reflection was printed off, fell off a truck, and you happen to pick it up on the side of the road, trust me, you’re considered rich by the world’s standards. The UN (United Nations) reports the following information:
Nearly half the world’s population, 2.8 billion people, survive on less than $2 a day. About 20 percent of the world’s population, 1.2 billion people, live on less than $1 a day. Nearly 1 billion people are illiterate and 1 billion do not have safe water.
Please hear me, this isn’t meant to make anyone feel guilty or convict anyone, only the Holy Spirit has the ability to convict, instead, this is meant to help us to understand the passage is more inclusive than exclusive regarding the topic of money.
The Love of Mammon
I hate it when I hear people/pastor’s misquote 1 Timothy 6:10. You typically hear it said, “Money is the root of all evil.” (insert Family Feud buzzer noise here) That’s not what it says at all. The scripture reads, “10 For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.”
Let me help you out here. Yes Paul is talking specifically about money here, but the truth is, the love of ANYTHING other than God, is the root of all kinds of evil!
Think about it, money is neutral. You can use it for both good or bad. Listen, money doesn’t spend itself. Money always needs someone to tell it what to do. The difference is, who is the person listening to in order to help make the decisions. Paul isn’t just warning a young pastor, he’s speaking to you and me in 1 Timothy 6:6-8 (NLT) “6 Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. 7 After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. 8 So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.