Serve Only One

Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

Sometimes we try to play both sides, like the children of Israel in the Old Testament, who would go to the temple or synagogue on Saturday. They brought an offering, listened to God’s word, said their prayers, and performed their sacrifices.  But other days of the week they would sleep with the temple prostitutes at the temple of Baal, and in their homes they kept idols of household gods just to make sure they had covered their bases.

In the same way, showing up at church on Sunday is no proof that we have abandoned the worship of money to serve our true Master. Failing to come on Sundays may be a clear indication that we have abandoned the service of God for Mammon’s cult. But maybe we try to play both sides. A truer indication of our allegiance comes from the answer to the question, “Where do I find my real comfort and security?” Or put the question this way: When we have God, we still worry that we don’t have enough money. But when we have money, do we worry that we don’t have enough God?

We may try to serve both, but Jesus says we can’t do it–twice–in this short verse. That is “the problem.” That is because these two masters are opposed to each other. Hard work and a good education may equip us to make lots of money. But when we serve the Lord as our true Master, then he gets in the way of our service to money.

Faith in the grace and forgiveness of God changes us. It fills us with love and concern for other people. That might lead us to put ourselves at financial risk to help them. Faith in the grace and forgiveness of God fills us with the desire to see the gospel spread to others. That leads us to give money away for the cause. We actually lower our standard of living, put our retirements in jeopardy, and refuse promotions that would advance our careers at the expense of family and faith. Honesty gets in the way of the shrewd deal.

God’s truth exposes the passing, dying nature of all things earthly. We can spend and spend, but someday the house and car are worn out and beyond repair, the doctor can’t put our bodies back together again, and all we worked for is nothing. God ruins the illusion, dashes the hopes, and exposes the counterfeit heaven that Master Money tries to create for us. He exposes the materialistic cult as a fake.

When we are led to see that the Lord is our true Master, we are led to serve him as our true Master, too. Jesus uses four terms to describe our relationship with these masters: hate, despise, love, and be devoted. When we see that Master Money wants to rob us of security, and trade our true heaven for his crummy attempt at an earthly copy, we hate and despise him. We hate him for his lies and for his empty promises. We have no choice but to use him in this world. Maybe we find ourselves thinking more like Dolly Levi: “Money, pardon the expression, is like manure. It’s not worth a thing unless it’s spread around, encouraging young things to grow.” We might add that it just stinks when it sits in a pile as well. What good is it if we can’t use it up serving God and helping others?

When we see that God is the Master who served his slaves like a slave, who fulfilled their duties, and died their death and paid their debt; when we see that God is the Master whose grace transforms enemies into servants and servants into sons, we not only trust him implicitly, but also love him and become devoted to him. Dr. Becker used to say, “’To know him is to love him’ is more true of our Savior than of anyone else.” So the main object of our Christian faith and life is to know him, to truly know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. When we know how wide, and long, and high and deep is the love of Christ, we will know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him. Then we will serve the Master who served us first.

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