The Manacles of Mammon
November 7, 2010
[Ed comes on stage wearing handcuffs.]
The poor boy mentality. Do you have it? It’s an attitude of ineptitude that focuses on what we’re missing. What we lack. Not what we have. The poor boy mentality. I would argue that it infiltrates, possibly dominates and incarcerates so many of us here. It’s something that we all fight. Because when you live in the poverty mentality you can’t do the things that God wants you to do.
One day in John 12, a woman named Mary, anointed Christ’s feet with very expensive perfume. Judas, you know the cat that betrayed Jesus, who kept the offering for Jesus, when he saw this unfolding he said to this girl,
“What are you doing? That perfume costs a year’s wages and you’re putting it on Christ’s feet? We could use that money for the poor! I mean, the money that you paid for that we could use that to help the less fortunate!” Sounds good. Sounds like a pretty righteous comment from Judas, but Jesus busted him. Look John 12:7.
“Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You’ll always have the poor among you but you’ll not always have me.”
Jesus knew what was going on. That was just a smoke screen. That was just a diversion. Judas was robbing from Jesus. He wanted the spotlight off of himself and onto Mary, then he played the poor boy card. He was all of a sudden thinking about the poor. He didn’t give a flying flip about the poor, but he said it.
How often have we done the same thing? I’ve done it before. “Whoa! Look at that house! Man if I had that kind of money, that kind of house, I’d just sell it and give the money to the poor! Whoa, that car! Man if I had a car like that I’d just sell it and give the money to the poor! I cannot believe the audacity of that girl wearing that kind of jewelry. I mean, what she has on her fingers and wrists could take care of a lot of the national debt! I can’t believe it!”
Those statements come from this mentality called the poor boy mentality. This focus, this attention, this laser beam attitude on what we lack, on what we’re missing as opposed to seeking
about the blessings we already have, thanking God for those, and leveraging those for greatness. Isn’t it interesting, the poverty mentality?
I would argue that the first way to see it is in the financial domain. You can tell if someone has a poverty mentality. I would also argue, at least in my life, that I have noticed a poverty mentality as much in the rich (maybe more) than those who don’t have as much, those that we would consider less fortunate, lower class, or even, the poor. The poverty mentality. It seeks to control. It seeks to manipulate. It seeks worshipers. It’s a spiritual issue, what we’re talking about, the poverty mentality. It’s a spiritual issue.
Matthew 6:24, Jesus is talking. And Jesus talks about a choice that we all have to make. On one hand, in Matthew 6, he’s talking about God. God wanting to be our master, God wanting to run the show in your life and mine. Because we’re made for our Maker to call the shots. When we allow God to call the shots, when we submit our stuff, our junk, our lives to him, he takes us places we never dreamed imaginable. On the other hand, if we submit our lives to another master, another god, then our dreams will be dashed. This other god will manipulate, ultimately incarcerate you and me.
Let me read. Matthew 6:24. Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters. Either you’ll hate the one and love the other or else you’ll be loyal to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and mammon.”
That’s a weird word. Mammon. What in the world is mammon? Mammon? You mean mammon is a god? Mammon? Yes it is! When you read ‘mammon’ read ‘riches.’ When you read ‘mammon’ read ‘greed,’ read ‘worldly wealth.’ When you read ‘mammon’ think about the Assyrian god that they stole, that they lifted from the Babylonians.
Think about the Old Testament story about the Tower of Babel. Some of you who know the Bible know the story of the Tower of Babel. Basically, you had these people trying to build a tower to the heavens to get on God’s level. Well, obviously it didn’t work. God caused confusion amongst the people in their languages. This god mammon has with it confusion. A self-sufficiency, an autonomy. I’m gonna do what I’m gonna do and God, forget you! That’s the choice that we have! We either worship God, right? We follow him. He wants to be our master, the master of all our ceremonies, or what do we do? We follow mammon.
Mammon is seeking worshipers. And what’s so jacked up about mammon is that mammon promises stuff that only God can do for us. Mammon goes, “Alright, I will give you pleasure! You don’t have to follow God. I will give you some serious pleasure! I will give you possessions. And when you get these possessions you’ll feel good about yourself. You’ll have a good self esteem. You’ll have those friends and travel to those destinations and will really, really work for you! I will give you power! I will give you…”
And here’s what is so ridiculous about it. We turn our backs on God, we substitute our stuff for God. When we substitute our stuff for God, slowly and methodically we look one day and we have on our wrists and around our waists the manacles of mammon. What we thought would give us freedom… “Oh man, I’m gonna do what I wanna do! And I will just jump from bed to bed or I will go from this deal to that deal. And I will make this amount of money. I’m gonna chase this, I’m gonna chase that.” Usually what we chase for our freedom as we turn our back on God ends up incarcerating us. We end up being a slave to it. Mammon. The spirit of mammon.
The poor boy mentality is a spirit. The mammon mentality is a spirit. Where you have one, you have the other. Mammon always says you need more. More, more, more! What does the spirit of poverty say? More, more, more, more! It’s fascinating.
Today do you find yourself chained up in the manacles of mammon? Or are you saying, “OK, I’m not gonna substitute my stuff for God. I’m gonna submit my stuff TO God. Because when we submit our stuff to God we’re in the blessed place. We’re blessable. God is a God of the blessing. God wants to pour his favor, tangibly and intangibly, into your life and mine. And the scriptures say when we obey God that will happen for us.
“Ed, are you talking about just financially?” Maybe. Often times I’m talking about areas and places that money can’t even measure. We WILL be blessed when we follow the Lord. It’s not gonna be a life of perfection. It’s not gonna be a life without testing and trials and tribulations. It will be, though, the life we’re wired up to live. The poverty mentality will never get you to this zone. Because the poverty mentality is limiting, it’s hoarding, it’s stifling. It’s like water that has no flow to it. It’s stagnant with algae and all these amoebae creeping around.
But God says, “Hey, get in my flow! Get into my currency! You get into my flow and my currency and things start going out. You start walking in the spirit of generosity. The more that goes out, the greater your capacity and mine.” But here, when we have the manacles of mammon, capacity?
How can you love your spouse like this? How can you really be the kind of father that God wants you to be like this? How can you give those compliments, that affirmation that you should give others at work and around the neighborhood when you have the manacles of mammon on? It doesn’t work! It’s stifling! The mentality that is hyper-focused on the lack. It’s a spiritual issue. It’s a spiritual issue.
It has nothing to do with money. It manifests itself financially, that’s one of the ways we can see it. That’s one of the markers. But it’s a mentality, it’s a spirit. And again, I would argue some of the wealthiest people on Dallas/Fort Worth, some of the wealthiest people in Miami, some of the wealthiest people who will watch this show all over the world are like this.
Again, on the other hand, some of the people who don’t have that much are freed up, man. They are in the flow! They are in the sweet spot of God’s success. The manacles of mammon. The poor boy mentality. It’s a spiritual issue.
Money is neutral, right? Money, it’s just there. The mean green, there it is. I’m worshiping mammon. I’m made in the image of God. God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, the Trinity. I’m also a trinity. Mind, body, and spirit. I touch it, it has a spirit on it. It could have the spirit of mammon on it when I touch it, intentionally or by default. Conversely, I’m worshipping God, following him. I touch money and it has the spirit of the Lord on it. So that same money can be used for mammon, to glorify and gratify self, or it can be used to glorify and gratify God. It’s a spiritual issue.
It’s about domination. It’s about incarceration. That’s ultimately what happens when you live with these manacles on. They get tighter and tighter; you become more and more limited. There are some marriages right now and the marriages have manacles all over them. There are some marriages that are malnourished, some marriages whose bellies are bloated and swollen. This poverty mentality of hoarding, of controlling, maybe in the financial domain, or maybe using intimacy or sex to manipulate. It’s the poverty mentality. The poverty mentality. God does not want us to live this way!
Mammon over-promises and under-delivers. It will never get you where you want to go. We have a choice, though, in the matter. We either substitute ourselves for God or submit our stuff to God. Have you made that decision? Some are like, “Ed man! On Sunday, for about an hour and a half a week, I’m following the Lord. He’s my master! But during the week you know, I’m gonna do what I’m gonna do. I will just worship at the feet of mammon.” No, no, no, no! Jesus said you can’t have your cake and eat it too!
You can’t have this dualistic compartmentalization going on. Jesus said you’ve got to make a choice. It’s your call. We either trust or we don’t. Show me someone with a spirit of poverty, show me someone who’s worshiping mammon, and I will show you somebody who is a control freak. I will show you somebody who makes decisions out of fear and not out of trust. Yeah, I understand when we follow God there’s gonna be some fear, but trust trumps fear. We trust, we get into the flow, and we go with it. But with mammon, we’re like, whoa! And so often we fear as opposed to really going after success and prosperity that God desires. Now when I say prosperity I’m not talking about money. I’m talking about living in the center of the will of God.
T.S. Here’s something else about this mentality that you need to understand. It’s fueled by guilt and pride. Think about it for a second. These kindred spirits: the manacles of mammon, the poverty mentality, they’re running buddies. They’re homies, right?
Well the poverty mentality is like you’re on a freeway. You’re like cruising to Blessedville. You’re like, wow, we’re going to Blessedville! Oh were in the city limits of Blessedville. We’re doing what God wants us to do. This is amazing, this is awesome!”
But then all of a sudden you go, “Man, there’s some chain gangs on the side of the road.” And these chain gangs are going, “Hey man, come over here! Come over here and take this guilt trip with me!” Those of us who are going to Blessedville kind of look and we go, “It looks pretty attractive. I think I will go to Guiltville.” Here is Guiltville. Guiltville is when you get to a place where you feel guilty about the blessings of God. Think about that. Is there anything that God has done in your life that should make you feel guilty? The poor boy guilt trip mentality wants people to think that we paid less for it.
“Ed, I like those shoes.”
“I got them on sale.”
“Ed, you live in a beautiful house.”
“I got a good deal on it.”
Why do we say that? Why don’t we say, “I paid full price for these shoes.” Or, “My house is awesome, thank you!” Why do we do that? We all do that.
Illus: I was talking to someone in my office right before I walked out. He’s a good friend of mind. And we were talking about this very subject and I go, “Man, I like that shirt!” He goes, “This old thing? I got it at Gap.” He goes, “Look at me!” and he started laughing. Poverty mentality! Isn’t it funny? The guilt trip.
And then we love to say that people are materialistic. Do you ever do that? I do. Materialism begins where your income ends.
“Whoa! Man I can’t believe they would have that boat. That is so materialistic.” Or, “I cannot believe they would have that house in the mountains. That’s just a waste!” “That custom-made car? I just have a hard time.”
And here’s what’s so weird about materialism. I ask you, what constitutes (think about this, materialism), what type of car, what zip code, what designer label, what carat diamond makes a person materialistic? I tried to come up with that but I can’t do it. It’s a moving target. It’s that poor boy mentality.
So we need to not focus on what we don’t have, what we’re missing. Just say, God thank you! Oh God, I’m so blessed I want to leverage what you’ve given me! You’ve gotten it to me, I give it to you. And God has promised us he’s gonna bless us, and bless us, and bless us, and bless us some more. Could be through material possessions, maybe, but usually it’s in areas materials can’t touch. But you can’t say that God does not bless materially. He does! Because if he didn’t we wouldn’t have this church.
We wouldn’t be able to help over 50 orphanages in Haiti. We wouldn’t be able to have a television ministry around the world. You see what I’m saying to you?
And here Judas is talking about, “Well, you know you ought to sell and give everything to the poor.” If we took that to the ultimate. If all of us sold everything and gave it to the poor in several years we would have nothing. Nothing to do nothing with. Hmm, it’s interesting, isn’t it.
There’s another ride out there, the guilt trip, yeah that’s a ride, but there is also the ride of pride. The chain gang will go, “Oh come over here! Come on, man. Coz you the man! You the girl! I mean you, you’re the one! Just get all prideful because you’ve done it all! I mean, guy, listen!”
And pride wants people to think that we’re more important than we really are. Pride wants others to think that we, for example, paid more for it than we actually did. Like those shoes, “Oh, they’re from Italy.” Like that house, “You know those beams in our house come from Paraguay and we shipped those in..” Oooh! Rah-rah-rah! Go, team, go! It’s the mammon mentality. The poor boy mentality.
We need to have the art of appreciation without having to own something. Just appreciate it. Hey God has blessed them! “I can’t believe God, you blessed this guy. He’s not that smart. I can’t believe you blessed this girl, but you know what, you did. God your favor ain’t fair. I’m not God, you’re God so good for you. I want to concentrate on what you’ve done in my life, and do my deal, and watch you bless my socks off and back again!”
Something else about this poverty mentality. The poverty mentality, if we’re not careful, can blockade the blessings of God. It can stop the flow of the blessings. You talk about flow? Yes.
Proverbs 11:24. “One person gives feely yet gains even more. Another withholds unduly but comes to poverty.”
Matthew 5:3, Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.”
Some of us right now, in this environment, in all of our environments. Some of you will watch this online tomorrow. Some of you will watch this on television, many of you I believe need to say, “You know what, God, I’m poor in spirit. I’m bankrupt spiritually, but I believe you have offered me your glorious riches in Christ Jesus. He died, rose again, and right now, Lord, I receive you into my life. I’ve got these manacles on. All I can do is this.” But here’s what’s gonna happen. God will unlock and unleash the chains. Some of you need to make that decision.
As I said earlier, about the poverty mentality, it manifests itself in a multitude of ways. I said money is neutral. I talked about that.
Marriage is neutral. Marriage, it’s neutral. We either serve mammon in our marriages or we serve God. We either have the poor boy mentality. We say, “No, I’m not gonna invest in a date night. I’m not gonna invest in those trips.” Or we’re generous. Generous with compliments, generous with love, generous with generosity.
Our career. I mean, our career, is that neutral? Yeah it’s neutral. Our career. We either go this way or the other.
Our family. Neutral! We either go this way, or that way.
Go God’s way! Just simply say, “God, I want the fullness of who you are and what you have for my life. I don’t want a poor boy any more. I don’t want to wear the manacles of mammon anymore because I believe in this series God is gonna do this right here. Because Pastor Pace Hartfield has the key and these things are hurting my wrists! (Pace helps Ed remove the handcuffs)
Alright, isn’t that great? I’ll do this one! Whoa! I’m trapped! I will do it. Yes! I did it! Whooo!!! It’s gonna be a process for some of us, right? It’s all a process for you and me. It doesn’t happen that quick. But this can be you. It really, really can. And during this series, because this poverty mentality thing, I’m telling you friends, it’s tough to get our brains around. During this series we’re gonna get in-depth because I truly believe this is one of the major issues, major attitudes that we’ve got to have victory over. And the victory is in Jesus. The manacles of mammon.. they’re gone! We’re not any more gonna substitute our stuff for God. God, we’re gonna submit and sacrifice it all for you. Because that is living in the sweet spot of God’s success.
[Ed leads in closing prayer.]