Is "money" the right translation?
The word "money" here is being translated from the Greek word μαμωνᾶς (mamōnas). Among the different translations of this verse in the different Bible versions, the word has been translated to "money," "wealth" and "mammon."
Certainly, "money" or "wealth" could include what Jesus is speaking of. But neither encompasses the entire meaning of the word - nor of Jesus' reference.
Indeed, if Jesus was strictly translating this to "money" - and money is an abomination and opposed to God - then the use of money would be condemned. We find that even Jesus and his disciples utilized money. Money, after all, is a tool. It is a unit of exchange used in modern and ancient cultures to provide the facilities for survival of the physical body. So what is wrong with money?
Strong's lexicon states that primary meaning of the Greek word μαμωνᾶς (mamōnas) is "mammon." Indeed, this is how this word is translated in many Biblical translations.
But what is "mammon" and is this what Jesus was talking about?
From Thayer's lexicon we find that the word appears to be derived from the Hebrew meaning "what is trusted in" and "treasure" as well as "opposed to God."
So how can mammon be opposed to God?
The underlying meaning relates to the illusory energy of the physical world. This may be termed "mammon" appropriately, assuming that we are referring to the ability of this illusory energy of the physical world to lure us in and enslave us.
We can confirm this reality from Jesus' statement above - "No one can serve two masters." This means that each of the things Jesus is speaking of - God and mammon - both can become ones' master. This means that each can be served.
We must also accept - if we accept God as the Supreme Omnipotent Being - that God is not threatened by anyone or anything. Mammon or money or wealth or treasure cannot oppose God in reality. In fact, God created these elements of matter - as He created everything.
But we can also understand that the Supreme Being can also create various energies or forces that can act upon us. These include the forces of gravity, electromagnetism and many other forces of nature.
The Supreme Being also created the illusory energy of this material realm. What is this? The foundation is the illusion that we are these physical bodies and not God's children and we can be happy in the physical world without our relationship with the Supreme Being.
This force or energy is instilled within the physical world. It is everywhere within this dimension of the physical body and the physical elements. So how can we become its servants?
This illusory energy of the physical world - often personalized as satan or the devil - enforces our false identity as these physical bodies. This in turn enslaves us as we seek happiness within these temporary false identities.
We are in fact, not these physical bodies.
Simple scientific logic can tell us this is the case. Yet this illusory energy of the physical world - created by God - still gives us the illusion that we are these physical bodies.
This is despite the fact that our physical body is constantly changing and eventually dies and decomposes. Science shows that every molecule within the body is exchanged for new ones at least every five years. As we breathe out, defecate, urinate and sweat, our body is eliminating molecules from our body. And as we breathe in, eat and drink, our body is taking molecules in from our surroundings.
As this exchange of matter takes place we remain the same person. When we look back at a picture of our body as a baby we will say "this is me" despite the fact that the baby body we had on is now gone and we now have a molecularly different body on today. This means we cannot be either body - today's body or yesterday's baby body.
When this body dies it becomes lifeless. Where did the life go? All the cells and molecules that were in that living body just before it died are still there in the dead body. Yet we say "he passed away" and "he's gone now." How can the person be "gone now" or "passed away" if they are the body? Their body is still right in front of us?
We investigate the science of this issue further here, but these simple facts tell us that we cannot logically be these temporary physical bodies.
Yet for some reason, we still insist that we are these temporary bodies. We still insist that our home is where the body lives and our family is composed of those bodies related to this body.
Furthermore, we still insist that we will become happy by making our physical body happy. We insist that if we can get the body pleasure, fame, wealth, a big house, a big family, a great reputation and so on - then we will be happy. This is regardless of the age of our body. Our body could be 90 years old - but still we will be seeking to make it happy, even though it is nearly dead.
Yet when we look around us at those bodies who have all of those things that supposedly make the body happy - we find they still aren't happy. And when we get even a few of these things for our body, we find we still aren't happy. We still need more.
As a result, those who seek happiness within the physical world - by trying to make their physical body satisfied in one of the above ways - are never happy. We continue to search for happiness in this world without finding it. Even the most wealthy and famous people are still searching. All their billions of dollars and billions of fans haven't made them happy.
Despite this, we keep trying to be happy within the physical world.
This is the service that Jesus is speaking about above. This illusion of future happiness - this illusory energy - causes a person to become the servant of this physical body and the things of this world.
As we seek happiness within the material world we have to work so hard. The "master" of the illusory energy of the material world is a hard master. It never lets up on us. Trials and tribulations are followed by more trails and tribulations. There is no real love - and no real satisfaction rendered by serving this master.
It is one thing to maintain the physical body: But maintaining the physical body is not that hard. Yes, one has to keep working to maintain the body. But becoming wealthy, famous and constantly pleasured within the physical world requires extraordinary effort. It requires that one goes above and beyond the requirements needed to keep the body surviving. It requires extraordinary service.
This is the effort that Jesus is speaking of when he speaks of serving mammon.
But what is this effort to become materially happy really? What are we doing when we are working so hard to make our physical body pleasurable, famous, wealthy, powerful and so forth? And why does this effort oppose God according to Jesus' statement?
It is self-centeredness.
When we are working so hard like this we are ultimately self-serving. We are wanting to give ourselves pleasure. We are wanting to achieve fame for ourselves. We are wanting to achieve power - or followers - for ourselves.
In other words, we are the center in this scenario. We might end up serving our body - which is not us - in order to give it pleasure - but because we think we are the body, our engagement is ultimately self-service.
And this is the secret to why we are given these temporary physical bodies in the first place: Because ultimately, we are spiritual beings. Our ultimate nature is to love and serve the Supreme Being. We were created to love and serve God in the spiritual realm and our real identity is connected to our particular loving relationship with God.
But because God also made sure that our loving relationship with Him is voluntary (because real love must be voluntary) He gave us the alternative opportunity to become self-centered and seek our own pleasure.
The Supreme Being then facilitated those who chose self-centeredness by creating the physical world and the illusory energy and these temporary physical bodies. Together they provide the facilities for us to be able to forget our natural identity and forget our natural loving relationship with God. This is why serving the illusory energy of the material world opposes God - because by serving it - serving ourselves - we forgo our innate relationship with Him.
But we can never actually lose our natural identity.
It may be covered up, but it is still apparent. Our natural tendency to serve is still there - and this is why most of us are serving mammon - as we seek happiness here. And our natural tendency to love is still there. This is why we seek to love others: Because our spiritual selves are loving by nature. We also seek families because we are part of a big family that we've forgotten - the family of the Supreme Being.
This is also why we seek our "soulmate" - someone in the physical world who is perfect for us: Someone who loves us unconditionally. Someone who is there for us always. Someone who will take care of us and protect us. Someone who will be at our side whenever we need them.
We are seeking a soulmate because innately we know that we have a soulmate. This is why people will often say "I know my soulmate is out there somewhere."
We assume we have a soulmate "somewhere out there" because the Supreme Person is our Soulmate. God is our Soulmate. He is our perfect match. He is our perfect beloved. Our perfect friend. Our perfect buddy. The person who always understands us and we don't have to explain ourselves to Him. The person who is always there for us. The person who loves us unconditionally, and will never reject us.
This is God.
The Supreme Being: God is a person - He's not a formless void or impersonal light. God has personality and form - actually He can take on multiple forms in the spiritual realm though He is the same personality. But each of us has a particular loving relationship with a particular form of God in the spiritual realm. And that relationship brings us happiness. It fulfills us. In fact, in the spiritual realm God produces another type of energy - His personal energy: An energy that prevents those who are loving Him in the spiritual realm from realizing that He is God. For those who are loving God in the spiritual realm - they don't realize He is God. He is only their Beloved. The Center of their lives. The One they want to please.
Each of us can choose to return home to our Soulmate at any time. All it takes is a determined decision - choosing Him as our Master.