Sermon on the Mount: Jesus Teaches about Money & Materialism

Matthew 6:24, “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.” (NKJV)

Money, materialism, wealth, riches, possessions –  it’s all around us. Money makes the world go ’round. People live for it – people die for it. Some people will do anything for it. “Get Rich Quick” books are sitting on every bookshelf. The latest fashions and trends are at the front of every magazine. The iPhone has just come out with a new phone and is set to come out with a new one in 6 months. The world is always offering something new and exciting to keep it’s victims chomping at the bit. This may be the “norm” for today’s world, but Jesus gives us some insight on what materialism will do to us if we let it become a stronghold in our lives.

This topic of money and materialism is so important that out of the 38 parables that Jesus spoke, 16 are about money and possessions. God is making it clear to us that money is his chief competition.

The word mammon comes from the word mammonas which is a transliteration from an Aramaic word to mean money, wealth or materialism.  In the present context, it is used to personify wealth or riches but Jesus personifies mammon, wealth, or materialism as if it were one’s master or lord. Jesus is literally saying here that you cannot have the best of both worlds. You cannot serve God and money, God and wealth, God and materialism. There is no room on the throne of your heart for 2 masters to sit. Either God or the thing you serve will sit on the throne.

Money in itself is not inherently evil, but it is the love of money and wealth that sucks people in. 1 Timothy 6:10a, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils.” How does the love of money lead to evil? The love of money leads to Greed > Greed leads to Anger > Anger leads to Hate. 1 Timothy 6:9 describes a person who lets the love of riches rule them. “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.” If the love of money leads to hate then this love will lead to ended relationships, backstabbing, scheming, thievery, prostitution, murder and countless other things.

In Luke 12:15-21, the Rich fool is very blessed with money and possessions and he keeps building bigger barns to store all of his grain. He is looking to his earthly possessions as his value and identity and as his source of security, satisfaction and significance. The same with the Rich Young Ruler (Mark 10:17-25). He didn’t want to give up all he had to follow Christ. They gave their money and possessions divine attributes, the things that God so desperately wants to do for us. When we look to money as our security, it becomes a god or an idol. We start to put our hope in it then we start to depend on it. When we look to money as our satisfaction, we will never be fulfilled. Money only increases our appetite to have more but it will leave us empty. When we look to money as our significance, we are trying to find our worth in it. Money will never lead us to love, worth, or value. God wants us to find our identity and value in Him. He wants to be the source of security, satisfaction and significance in our lives. He is Jehovah Jireh – God our Provider. And he wants to be just that.

It all comes down to a heart issue. Who do you love more? God or money? God or wealth? God or possessions? God or materialism?

How can we change our money-hungry hearts to godly-fulfilled hearts? When we realize that everything we have is God’s, we will be grateful and thankful for it. Money will be a part of our lives but it will not rule over our it. One of my favorite authors, Kyle Idleman says in his book gods at war, “When we start to see all of our resources as God’s it helps us develop an attitude of gratitude that leads to a heart of worship.”When God sits on the thrones of our hearts, He will be our satisfaction, He will meet our needs, He will be our security, He will be our significance. What could be better?

Philippians 4:19, “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” 

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