Summary: We cannot serve two masters. The choice is ours to make.
“Fat Wallets, Empty Lives”
By: Rev. Ken Sauer, Pastor
Grace UMC, Soddy Daisy, TN
In his book How Much Is Enough? Hungering For God In An Affluent Culture author and Founder of Bread for the World: Arthur Simon writes about Bryce and Ellen, “a couple in their mid-thirties.
They have two sons and a daughter, and on Sundays the family attends church more often than not.
Bryce manages about twenty people in a medium-sized accounting firm.
He receives a good salary and is on a path that he believes may eventually move him into a circle of company executives, so he goes to work early, often stays late, and usually works some on weekends.
Ellen has a part-time job with a public relations firm, which allows her to manage the kids and take care of the house.
None of this is easy, but it has enabled them to buy a house in an upscale neighborhood and a lot of recreational hardware, including a raft of toys, a couple of TVs for the children’s rooms, and a small yacht.
Bryce and Ellen already talk about one day taking early retirement and moving to a place where they can enjoy year-round outdoor sports.
Though deeply in debt, they are able to make timely payments and take pride in contributing ‘more than most’ to church in dollar amount, which at 2.5 percent of their income is about average for church members.
Simon continues, “They would be astonished—probably offended—to have anyone suggest that they are beholden to mammon.
Yet their plans and dreams, and the dreams they are nourishing in their children, are overwhelmingly directed that way.”
Jesus was no killjoy.
“I have come that they may have life and have it to the full,” He tells us in John chapter 10.
Jesus came to invite us into the Father’s Kingdom.
That is abundant life!
Compared to the life Jesus offers, mammon in any amount is poverty!!!
I’ve never heard anyone, near the end of their life lament that they should have spent more time at work, or that they should have made more money.
I have, though, heard many a folk lament the fact that they did not live life to the full through a total commitment to Jesus Christ!!!
Why is it that in the face of such unprecedented prosperity, so many of us feel so empty?
It’s obvious that material stuff can capture our hearts.
What they can’t do is nourish our souls.
Urgently and incessantly, Jesus drew people to God.
This is why we were created.
Nothing else satisfies the longing of our hearts.
Nothing but the source of Joy can give us joy!
So Jesus invites us to follow Him, to hunger and thirst for God, and to feast on the goodness that comes from God alone.
The other side of that coin is that anything we love and trust more than God is certain to fail…and lead us into misery, destruction and hell.
And it’s for this reason that Jesus repeatedly warns us against the seductive power of possessions, knowing that our desire for them can take us captive and separate us from God.
Mammon Jesus calls these possessions…this stuff.
“You cannot serve God and mammon.”
Serving Mammon has been a temptation in every generation, but it is especially tempting in our own generation—caught up as we are in the pursuit of riches on an unprecedented scale!!!
Just take a look around at the houses that are being built, all over the country.
McMansions, many folks call them.
No one on earth needs that much space!
And what about the size of our cars?
And television sets?
It’s really getting crazy!
We seem to worship stuff more and more and more!!!
The problem we face is that our desire to have more stuff is addictive.
It begins to define our lives and soon takes control.
The “good life” is seen as a life of prosperity, which is an essential part of the American dream, but life defined this way is actually hostile to the Way of Jesus.
“But I am not rich,” we may instinctively reply.
But, compared to 99 percent of history’s human population, or even compared to the vast majority of people in the world today, we are rich indeed!
In any case, none of us has to be wealthy to covet wealth.
It is the love of wealth, not the amount of wealth that starves our souls, and our culture seems to foster this love of wealth!!!!
The word culture is rooted in the Latin word cultus—which means a system of religious worship.
Culture is the way of life that grows out of the beliefs and values of a people—not necessarily the ones we profess to have, but the ones we really do have!