24 No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and Mammon. (3 Nephi 13)
Notice that there is no middle ground in the choice placed before us. So, what is Mammon all about?
Here's some insights from Hugh Nibley, Approaching Zion:
The Hebrew word for financial activity of any kind is mamonut, and the financier is a mamonai; that is, financing is, quite frankly, in that honest language, the business of Mammon. From the very first there were Latter-day Saints who thought to promote the cause of Zion by using the methods of Babylon. Indeed, once the Saints were told to make friends with the Mammon of unrighteousness (D&C 82:22), but that was only to save their lives in an emergency. We have the word of the Prophet Joseph that Zion is not to be built up by using the methods of Babylon. He says, “Here are those who begin to spread out buying up all the land they are able to do, to the exclusion of the poorer ones who are not so much blessed with this worlds goods, thinking to ley foundations for themselves only, looking to their own individual familys and those who are to follow them… . Now I want to tell you that Zion cannot be built up in eny such way [sic].”
So then, how should it be?:
8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (1 Timothy 6)
The theme of pride that is always talked about in the Book of Mormon is most often associated with money and riches, not merely the attitude of pride itself. It's our dependence that we give ourselves to it that seems to change the attitude. So then, to whom do we owe all allegiance and dependence?:
33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matthew 6)
A misunderstood scripture! In other words, we must seek the kingdom of God only. That doesn't mean we can seek out riches once we think we're more aligned with God. For, we never stop seeking the kingdom of God, nor righteousness. But if we need it [those other things], it will be added to us. In fact, God will freely give us what we need. Seeking those treasures is a lack of confidence in God. He gives us the gifts so we can do the important work–His work.
17 For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare; yea, I prepared all things, and have given unto the children of men to be agents unto themselves.
18 Therefore, if any man shall take of the abundance which I have made, and impart not his portion, according to the law of my gospel, unto the poor and the needy, he shall, with the wicked, lift up his eyes in hell, being in torment. (D&C 104)
The abundance is everything we don't need. This is a pretty common law in the scriptures. On the other hand is withholding what God gave us freely in excess; this is the cruelty of pride. How big of a deal is this?
49 Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.
50 And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good. (Ezekiel 16)
So, what kind of laws are we supposed to obey? What of the law of tithing? What about serving a mission? This is supposed to be the easy stuff, in my opinion. It's pretty straight forward. God tells us exactly what to do with our money and time in those situations. It's what you do with the rest of the 90% of your income and time that really matters. It's the giving of our excess.
Our zeal shouldn't move faster than our knowledge. We must do it with faith and some assurance of how to move forward with these things. Sacrifice is a true principle, though. As we draw near to God, listening and hearkening to His voice and His promptings, He promises to draw near to us. God has set forth His law. We have covenanted to obey it. That's for an upcoming post.
However, let us never suffer the beggar to put up his cup in vain. King Benjamin is clear in teaching that it does not matter what circumstances we find a beggar. We are not to judge. We give. One's prosperity, or lack of, does not determine one's alignment with God. What if the beggar was God's angel? Would/should that make a difference? Is it cruel not to give when God has freely given to us? Paying money by checking all the boxes in the tithing slip is not sufficient. It's filling in the need where you see a need to be filled. It's giving when you can give. It's seeking out those in need. I think that's the law it is teaching.
Are we going to let the system of Mammon in charge of the poor? Do we depend on the Government for that? Where does the responsibility lie? This is God's system:
17 Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just—
18 But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God.
19 For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind?
20 And behold, even at this time, ye have been calling on his name, and begging for a remission of your sins. And has he suffered that ye have begged in vain? Nay; he has poured out his Spirit upon you, and has caused that your hearts should be filled with joy, and has caused that your mouths should be stopped that ye could not find utterance, so exceedingly great was your joy.
21 And now, if God, who has created you, on whom you are dependent for your lives and for all that ye have and are, doth grant unto you whatsoever ye ask that is right, in faith, believing that ye shall receive, O then, how ye ought to impart of the substance that ye have one to another.
22 And if ye judge the man who putteth up his petition to you for your substance that he perish not, and condemn him, how much more just will be your condemnation for withholding your substance, which doth not belong to you but to God, to whom also your life belongeth; and yet ye put up no petition, nor repent of the thing which thou hast done. (Mosiah 4)