I think the best single-word, familiar synonym for “mammon” in this article is “comparison,” in the sense of “keeping up with the Joneses.”
“Do I need more/better status symbol stuff?”
“I want the best for my children, family, self, etc.”
But as the author explains, it is comparison beyond material. It includes power.
“Am I doing everything I can to get this promotion?”
“Have I not been ambitious enough?”
“Have I set boundaries and spoken my truth?”
And if, in comparison to wealth-lust, power-lust is subtle for you, then this kind of comparison is likely to be also:
“Is s/he more giving than I am? I need to up my game of giving…”
“I’m the one in this household who has worked the hardest to bring home the most.”
“I’m the one in this partnership who does all the house work.”
“I am the one in this extended family who hosts all the holidays.”
“I have sacrificed as much as my partner has, and deserve his/her reciprocity…”
“Don’t I get some points for that?”
And lastly, most perilous of all,…
“I’m a good person morally.”
“I follow God’s Commandments and my religion’s guidelines and practices…”
“Haven’t I done enough to earn God’s mercy, etc.?”
“I haven’t lied to others, my self, or God about all of my secrets that I have stuffed into my Shadow of shame…”
This obsession with comparison, achievement, superiority, etc. is deeply embedded in our culture, so contaminates every corner of our mind. Even what we think are praiseworthy notions, like self-improvement, are about this kind of comparison.
“Be better today than I was yesterday,” seems praiseworthy. But I do not agree. Eventually, even if we start out with all good intentions, self improvement leads to the expectation that others should be improving themselves also. “No, Neil, that’s not true. I am just focused on myself.” Perhaps for now. But I beg you to be honest with yourself.
For nearly all of us poisoned by this cultural mindset, we are honestly at a complete loss if we take away this goal of constant improvement. It’s as if we have no meaning or purpose in life if that is not it.
In closing, here are some quotes from the article; test your self-honesty with them, and perhaps plan a self-improvement goal to shed denial:
“’You cannot serve God and mammon’ (Luke 16:13). Mammon was the god of wealth, money, superficiality, and success.”
“Mammon becomes then a source of disorder because people allow it to make a claim on them that only God can make.”
“To participate in the reign of God, we have to stop counting. We have to stop weighing, measuring, and deserving in order to let love flow through us. The love of God can’t be doled out by any process whatsoever. We can’t earn it. We can’t lose it. As long as we stay in this world of earning and losing, we’ll live in perpetual resentment, envy, or climbing.”
“You cannot move around inside the world of Infinite Grace and Mercy, and at the same time be counting and measuring with your overly defensive and finite little mind.”
“The reign of God is a worldview of abundance. God lifts us up from a worldview of scarcity to infinity. God’s love is nothing less than infinite.”
Never, ever will our expectations of reciprocity satisfy us. There is absolutely universal evidence for this among every human being. If we hold anyone to the standard of performance achievement, even if it is our own self, we will be perpetually disappointed. Denial of that is death. You, I, and our enemies are loved infinitely, passionately, and with no conditions whatsoever; and we did not earn that.
Neil D. 2021-09-20