Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Mamba Spirit

The Mamba Spirit
R. Yehudah ben Shomeyr

There is a well known proverb in Nigeria which says, “You know a Nigerian is truly dead if you wave a Naira (Nigerian currency) under his nose and he doesn’t wake up; then you know he is truly dead.”

I Tim. 6:10 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.

This is probably the most misquoted verse in the entire Bible. I hear all the time people say that, “money is the root of all evil.” Money is just a piece of paper that we attach value to; it is an inanimate object, in and of itself incapable of evil or even good for that matter. It is how we use money which is good or evil. Money can be a tool to build or a weapon to tear down; it’s all a matter of how one decides to use it. One can donate money to an orphanage to provide children with food, clothing and shelter, or one can take money and use it to buy drugs or to even hire someone to kill someone else. The Bible says that it is the LOVE OF MONEY which is the root of all evil. So the evil lies within the human being not in any form of lifeless currency or monetary wealth. It takes a human being with a soul and a choice to love something so much that they allow it to consume and destroy them.

Many Nigeria believers claim that money can have an evil spirit attached to it that influences the possessor of the money. They call it the Mamba Spirit, named after the Black Mamba Snake, the longest and most venomous snake in Africa, averaging around 2-3 meters or 8-9 feet, and sometimes growing up to 4 meters or approximately 14 ft. Its name is derived from the black coloration inside the mouth; the actual color of the skin varies, from dull yellowish-green to a gun-metal grey. It is the fastest snake in the world, capable of moving at 4.32 to 5.4 meters per second (16–20 km/h, 10–12 mph). When this Mamba Spirit strikes it injects the deadly venom of pride, greed, a lust for power, authority and reputation. Money in Nigeria is seen as a mark of success and can buy power and influence. If you have money in Nigeria you are considered a “somebody” to be sought after. People think if you have a lot of money you must be wise in order to make that money. So you are asked advise, or to be on boards. Money can not only buy you things such as homes and cars, but money in Nigeria can also buy one a chieftaincy title or a political seat. Money is therefore more greatly prized than even the necessities of life.

Sadly, money is thought to be able to buy happiness. The flawed logic is; if one has money one will not lack the necessities of life nor the luxuries of life and one will be without need or want and thus will be happy. Money will not and cannot buy happiness or true power and authority. This can only come from HaShem, even worldly powers are ordained by HaShem.

Rom. 13:1-8 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.

Money may buy a temporal euphoric sensation of the pleasure of newness and novelty, but it soon wears off like the crash after a sugar high. “Things” and “Stuff” money can buy eventually become a burden that others hound us for and lust after.  Just as Rav Sha’ul (Paul) said:

I Tim. 6:10 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.

Possessions need to be secured and maintain and such worry and attention to ones expensive and coveted possessions preoccupies ones mind with needless responsibilities, worry and strife. Jewelry, designer shoes and “bling” folks will murder others to posses. Cars and i-phones carry with it contracts, bills and insurance. With each new possession comes a new set of worries and cares. False friends and distant and estranged relatives come out of the woodwork and want a piece of what you have. Once you have been drained like a well, your so called friends and family are no where to be found. No one wants to ride a dry gravy train. Just like in the story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15).

Messiah’s Talmidim taught us about want and contentment:

Phil. 4:11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, [therewith] to be content.

1 Tim. 6:8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.

Heb. 13:5a [Let your] conversation [be] without covetousness; [and be] content with such things as ye have:

If you have just food and clothes you should be happy and content. Notice, shelter was not a requirement for happiness. Why? Perhaps because Messiah was content without having the permanence of lodging.

Matt. 8:20 And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air [have] nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay [his] head.

Yeshua Messiah Himself told us regarding possessions:

Matt. 6:19-21 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:  For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Monetary wealth and possessions in and of themselves are neutral, inanimate and neither good nor evil. The evil comes when such things become our masters and gods and influence our actions.

Matt. 6:24 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.

Most of us are not monetarily rich because very few of us can handle the responsibilities and pressures of being wealthy. Many of us, if were rich would rely less and less of HaShem and more and more on our wealth.

Matt. 13:22 The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful.

Not even the wisest Israeli king who ever lived, Solomon, couldn’t handle the pressure with out given in to multiplying his wealth, wives and possessions which the Torah prohibited a King to do.

Deut. 17:16-17  But he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses: forasmuch as the LORD hath said unto you, Ye shall henceforth return no more that way. Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold.

If the great Solomon could not rightly manage his wealth without, as Paul said, having “erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows,” what makes us be so arrogant to think we could.

There are real life story after story of people either inheriting wealth or winning the lottery who later ended up broke and miserable and curse the day the money came into their life. After their rub with wealth they are worse off than when they were poor. Why? Because they couldn’t handle it. They didn’t have mastery over the money, money had mastery over them. This is the essence of the Mamba Spirit which plagues Nigeria and threatens to slither its way into the Body of Messiah and destroy us.

Mark 8:36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?

Prov. 15:6, 16 In the house of the righteous [is] much treasure: but in the revenues of the wicked is trouble… Better [is] little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble therewith.

To conquer and not be influences by this Mamba Spirit we must see money and wealth for what is it; not as a way to better our own lives but as a tool to Tikkun Olam and to build up the Kingdom of HaShem.

As Rav Sha’ul said in Romans 13:8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loves another hath fulfilled the Torah.