“No one can serve two masters; for 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 God and mammon [money, possessions, fame, status, or whatever is valued more than the Lord]..” Matthew 6:24 (AMP)
Welcome to this edition of the Awakening Call.
This week I continue with the series on THE NARROW WAY and our focus is on Matthew 6:24 - Jesus’ statement that it is impossible for us to serve and love God and Mammon (money) simultaneously. Implied in our faith is believing that the testimony of Jesus on any and everything is true. We can therefore be 100% sure that it is truly impossible to love both God and mammon. And if we are one of those who believe we can love both, we then imply that God is a liar. And we know that God cannot lie – Titus 1:2.
The definitive terms here are: to serve and to love. To serve means to perform duties for or do the will of while to love means to have deep affection or intense liking for.
So how can we tell if we serve God or mammon? We do so by finding out which of the two fuel or govern our choices and decisions the most; decisions like how we treat people, whose will (God or self) is accomplished when earning or spending money, how much compromise or ungodliness we are willing to embrace in the quest to acquire it, how much pain and shame we are willing to endure to stay true to God in seasons of lack, etcetera.
And how can we tell if we love God or mammon? By finding out which of them occupy our hearts and thoughts the most; and which of them we seek, covet, hunger, thirst for and pursue the most; which of them we are willing to risk everything to find; which of them give us feelings of joy and contentment the most, and which in our eyes determine our sense of worth and value.
An example of serving (doing the will of) mammon can be found in James 2:2-3, the Bible states:
“For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, “You sit here in a good place,” and say to the poor man, “You stand there,” or, “Sit here at my footstool,”
It is obvious that money – the abundance or the lack of it is the deciding factor on the treatment meted out to the two men. The one gets a good seat because he has money and the other is left standing or sitting at another’s footstool because of the lack of it. Here, money – not God’s values determines who seats where. To give honor to the rich because of his wealth and to withhold respect from the poor because of his lack is to serve mammon.
To let people control what we think, believe and live out because they are wealthy or because they give or support us financially is to serve mammon. To serve money is to do what money - the abundance or the lack of it dictates that we do.
The godly mind-set that ensures that we never fall into the snare of serving or loving mammon is what Apostle Paul states in 1 Timothy 6:17-19:
“Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, … Let them do good,… ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.”
In other words, resist pride…put your trust in God and not in your riches…do good with what God has blessed you with…be ready to give and share with those in need…invest generously in things of eternal value…
Admitting that we are stewards of God in respect of our monies and wealth allows us to achieve that sensitive balance where we have it and yet are willing to be emptied of it in accordance with His will.
In Matthew 5:48 and 19:21 Jesus drew what I regard as an unexpected link between money and being made like Him. In 5:48 He commands us to be perfect, as God is and in 19:21 He highlights one of the requirements to being made perfect. To the rich young ruler He said:
“If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
I don’t think it was so much as needing him to forfeit all of his wealth as it was about seeing which of the two – his possessions or Jesus he would cling to and which he would let go of. The story ends with the rich young ruler deeply saddened because he had great possessions and Jesus saying to the disciples in verses 23-24:
“Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
I wonder what choice we would make today if this scene is re-enacted with us in the shoes of the rich young ruler; which would we cling on to and which would we let go of – Jesus or our monies? To let go of Jesus and His ways in the quest to acquire wealth is idolatry and we know that no idolater will inherit the Kingdom of God - 1 Corinthians 6:9-10.
To ensure that we serve and love God and Him alone all our lifetime, we must be willing to follow Jesus’ example in Matthew 4 in as many a times as we are tempted. Verses 8-9 of Matthew 4 states:
“Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.”
To which Jesus answered:
“Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’ ”
The devil offered Jesus ‘…the kingdoms of this world and their glory’ in exchange for bowing down and worshiping him. How many of us have been lured to compromise and bow to people and to a lifestyle that is not of God in our quest for the kingdom of this world and their glory? How many of us – church-going, tongue speaking, Bible carrying professed Christians - have gone to places and allowed ourselves to be ministered to by those who clearly do not have God’s Holy Spirit; how many of us have paid out monies and given offerings on altars we know are not the altars of the Living God; how many of us have yoked ourselves to societies or groups of people we know do not honor or retain God in their thinking just because they offer us opportunities to acquire the kingdoms of this world and their glory? We claim we love God and are His own, yet we let money determine to whom and to what we submit ourselves to.
Jesus is right – we cannot serve two masters – for either we will hate the one, and love the other; hold to the one and despise the other. It is impossible for us to love and serve God and mammon (money) simultaneously.
The question then is – looking at all we have done and the choices we have made so far – whom do we love and serve? God? Mammon?