Possessions can be idols or icons
This letter is for Stacy Jones, our only chick drummer and the gal with the biggest heart in town.
Nothing neutralizes greed like giving.
You’re a giver. You give generously of yourself, your time, and your money. You never ask for anything. You never complain that you don’t have enough. You never talk about what others have or what you wish you still had. I’m sure you have those thoughts from time to time—we all do—but I admire the way you have decided to steward your resources.
One of Jesus’ most famous sayings is “you cannot serve both God and Mammon.” “Mammon” was the name of an ancient deity representing all worldly goods. Sometimes we translate “Mammon” as “money,” but Mammon was bigger than that, more comprehensive.
Roman homes often had shrines to gods. Idols lived in these shrines, stone statues that decorated the shelves and before whom the homeowners would burn incense and pray. Mammon was a common idol in such a home, but Jesus warned that Mammon wasn’t just a knickknack. Mammon is a spiritual power, and the more time and attention we give to Mammon the more dangerous it becomes.
Jesus warned that we might become possessed by our possessions.
But not you. You have inoculated yourself against Mammon by being generous. You have chosen to use your possessions to glorify God. Things that were once yours now adorn our church because you have made them offerings. You have taken things and made them sacred by virtue of your gift.
This book analyzes the spiritual contest at work in our cities, pitting the Spirit of God against the selfishness of humanity. Nowhere is this battle more apparent than in how we employ our possessions.
Everything we own can be either an icon or an idol. An icon points someone to God. An idol points only to itself. The only determining factor is us: what we do and what we say about what we have.
My dad has a fancy car, one he could never afford. When people see him driving that car, they often comment on it. He tells them, “I’m so blessed to have this car. It was a gift from my friend, and I thank God every day I get to drive it.” Dad’s car is an icon, a means of acknowledging the graciousness of God in everyday life.
Not only do I want to bless you and thank you for your generosity, I also want you to know there is a sacred energy at work in your giving. You are taking ordinary things and making them holy, and I want to encourage you to do more of this. Make your possessions holy. Make your house holy. Make your relationships holy. Make your talent holy. Make your life holy. Make your thoughts holy.
And may God wholly reward you for all the ways you acknowledge him.
 Luke 16.13.
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