God is the Master; not Mammon
By Pastor Michael Olawore
New Wine Church, London
Foundation Scripture: Matthew 6:24-27, Haggai 2:8
Sunday 13th November 2016
I begin a financial-focused series today, titled – ‘Understanding the Purpose of Money’. Today’s message is titled ‘God Is the Master; Not Mammon’.
Here is the foundation scripture for this series: “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24). God’s purpose for our lives cannot be fulfilled, if we unnecessarily withhold the resources He has given us in financing the work of His Kingdom.
Let’s begin this series by establishing this preamble – ‘Who actually owns money?’ The bible gives us various references on this subject, which we will be delving into quite a bit today. From our foundation scripture, Jesus makes it clear to us that we cannot serve both God and mammon; it has be one or the other. However, the conundrum is intriguing – if we are not in close relationship with God, the outpour of His blessings upon our lives become remarkably minimal. Sadly, the church has experienced relative success in other areas of ministry, except in the areas of finances.
Here are some verses to establish the ownership of money. Haggai 2:8 reads: ‘The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine,’ says the LORD of hosts’. Our finances belong to God; we are simply stewards of the resources He has given to us. Romans 11:36 reads: ‘For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen’. King David also ascribed the ownership of all things to God in 1 Chronicles 29: 10-16: ‘Then David praised the Lord in the presence of the whole assembly: “O Lord, the God of our ancestor Israel, may you be praised forever and ever! Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty. Everything in the heavens and on earth is yours, O Lord, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as the one who is over all things. Wealth and honour come from you alone, for you rule over everything. Power and might are in your hand, and at your discretion people are made great and given strength. “O our God, we thank you and praise your glorious name! But who am I, and who are my people, that we could give anything to you? Everything we have has come from you, and we give you only what you first gave us! “O LORD our God, even this material we have gathered to build a Temple to honour your holy name comes from you! It all belongs to you!’
Besides owning everything, He also gives power to possess wealth as revealed in Deuteronomy 8:18: “And you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day”. He also owns us as written in 1 Corinthians 6:20: ‘For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s’. Having established that God owns everything, including our wealth – as a result of this, our attitude towards money will give back a reflection of our attitude towards God. However, God does not need our wealth; He has no need. Psalm 50:12 put it this way: ‘If I were hungry, I would not ask you for food, for the world and everything in it is mine’ (GNT).
The worldwide church has misconstrued the concept of financial stewardship. Believers have sadly abandoned their position of developing a strong relationship with God, rather spending more time looking for economical rewards. Wealth and riches from the Kingdom perspective is a by-product – one of the benefits of spending time with God. Luke 16:10-11 makes this clear: ‘He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much’. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?’.
Having established that Heaven is not in need of our finances, God’s call to give of our finances to the cause of the Kingdom is simply a pathway He has established to release Heaven’s supply to us.
Let’s take a look at the story of the Israelites and their relationship with the resources granted to them by God. Here is Exodus 12:35-36; ‘Now the children of Israel had done according to the word of Moses, and they had asked from the Egyptians articles of silver, articles of gold, and clothing. And the Lord had given the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they granted them what they requested. Thus they plundered the Egyptians’. A few weeks later, while Moses was up in Mount Sinai with God, the Israelites became restless when Moses return was protracted. So they spoke to Aaron about making a visible image that they could worship. Aaron response is revealed in Exodus 32:2-4; ‘And Aaron said to them, “Break off the golden earrings which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” So all the people broke off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them to Aaron. And he received the gold from their hand, and he fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a moulded calf. Then they said, “This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!”
Sadly this pattern is still repeating itself in the church today – many are spending their finances on perishable material things at the expense of God-centred initiatives; whatever we’ve been given by God that we cannot give back to Him, would be worshipped. The wealth of the Egyptians was a form of a seed that was expected to be sown into God’s multiplication system. Since they could not trust God with their finances, by inference the Israelites could not also trust Him with their lives. As a result, an entire generation perished in the wilderness.
Our God is a giving God and He desires that His children reflect His attribute. If we obey this simple instruction, we are in line to experience the blessings of God as revealed in Matthew 6:25-27; “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” When God’s purpose is served, He will take care of our lives.
In rounding up, let’s examine Mark 4:35-39, which reads: ‘On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side.” Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was. And other little boats were also with Him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing? Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm.
This story is a mini allegory of the church today. The Church being represented by the boat is filling up with worldly values that we’ve imbibed over the years, leading to a sinking church. Having disregarded Christ till he fell asleep, the disciples reconnected with Him when the storm arose and woke him up. The question to ask is this – How could Jesus be sleeping when he could easily have been engaged in conversation, with the disciples? The storm waters would not have filled the boat, if Christ was awake.
Jesus tells the parable of the rich fool in Luke 12:16-21, a classic on the futility of being self-centred. ‘Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ “So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God’.
I encourage you to re-establish God as your source and Master. When God becomes your supplier, you can be rest assured of Heaven’s limitless supply.
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