“The Monster Called Mammon”
By Pastor Ron Buxton
His real name was Youssuf Ismaelo, but he was better known as Youssuf “the Terrible Turk”. Actually Bulgarian—not Turkish–by birth, Youssuf was massive in size. In the days before social media–let alone any major news source–we barely have grainy photographs still in existence of him. And although Youssuf pre-dated much of what famous sports figures and rock stars earn globally today, he would certainly be comparable to them.
Youssuf “the Terrible Turk” was the world wrestling champion of the late 1800’s. We’re talking real Greco-Roman wrestling. In those days, he would constantly travel from country to country to display his talents to thousands of fans. At more than six feet tall, and surpassing 350 pounds, very few competitors could last even a few minutes in the ring with him. In fact, in a six month tour of the United States, Youssuf tossed around his opponents like rag dolls.
The year was 1898, and the American champion at that time was named Evan “strangler” Lewis. The much-hyped event took place in Chicago, and had there been pay-per-view back then, records would have certainly been set. But this was more than a century ago, and the purse was $8,000. Of course, that amount of money would be like millions of dollars today!
After easily defeating Lewis, Youssuf insisted that his prize money be converted into gold coins rather than U.S. currency. You see, not only was Youssuf massive in size, but his pride might have been even more massive. And, unfortunately for him, that would be the one heavy weight competitor that would soon “pin” him—forever!
Mammon can be a monster. What Jesus referred to in Matthew 6:24 was actually not just about money. Frankly, it was an ancient Syrian deity that was worshiped by some pagans at the time of Christ. The monster of mammon is the all-consuming deity of greed. And Youssuf was no match for him.
During a voyage back from the United States, the ship on which Youssuf was aboard collided with another vessel and sank. More than 600 passengers were traveling on that same voyage, and the majority of them were rescued. But not “the Terrible Turk”. The monster of mammon had him in a death grip! You see, just before he plunged overboard to swim towards a life boat, he stuffed all those gold coins into his massive money belt! Tragically, Youssuf headed straight to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean! Never had the value of gold ever sank faster in its worth!
I am not a politician. I am a pastor. That means that I will not always tell you what you want to hear. Folks, the monster of mammon continues to plague far too many people. How many people are figuratively killing themselves in the death grip of greed and misspent living? But the warning of Christ remains. The monster of mammon took down Youssuf “the Terrible Turk”. What makes you think that you are stronger than him? Put Christ “in your corner” before it’s too late!