You Cannot Serve Two Masters
"No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money."
The original Greek of this verse says that we cannot serve God and mammon (an Aramaic word meaning money or possessions). Jesus personifies mammon here, revealing its demonic power to hold us in slavery. Money is supposed to be a tool we use for good. In fact, it often becomes like a demon that possesses and controls us. For this reason, Jesus is clear that we cannot serve both God and mammon. Neither will share our allegiance. Both want our full attention and loyalty.
How tempting it is for us to try and prove Jesus wrong about God and mammon! We want to serve God. Yet, if we're honest with ourselves, most of us in Western culture also are servants of mammon. When I buy something I don't need so that I'll look good to others, I'm serving mammon. When I neglect to give away generously what God has entrusted to me so I can have more luxury items for myself, then I'm serving mammon. When I spend more time worrying about money than I do seeking the kingdom of God, mammon demonstrates its grip on my heart.
How can we free ourselves from slavery to mammon so that we might serve God wholeheartedly? We begin by honestly admitting our desire for mammon. We confess our mixed loyalties to God, seeking his forgiveness and cleansing. We find fellow disciples who can help us restructure our values and practices. And, as Jacques Ellul observes in Money & Power, we break the spiritual domination of mammon by giving generously and sacrificially.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: When do you struggle with serving mammon? What have you found that sets you free from bondage to mammon so that you might serve the Lord more fully?
PRAYER: Dear Lord, I confess from the outset that I am a person with a divided heart. I want to serve you wholeheartedly, to declare that you're my sole master. But mammon has dug its grasping claws into my soul, and it doesn't easily let go. To be honest, there are times when I freely choose to serve mammon. Yes, there are times I want "stuff" more than your kingdom. Forgive me, Lord.
And cleanse me. Renew me. By your Spirit, remake my heart so that I desire you more than mammon. Help me to serve you with singleness of spirit. Teach me to be generous, not just when its comfortable, but also when it costs me something tangible. As I give by your help, may you break the power of mammon in my life.
Take my silver and my gold,
Not a mite would I withhold;
Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow with ceaseless praise,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Take my love; my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure store.
Take myself, and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee,
Ever, only, all for Thee.
(Excerpt from "Take My Life, and Let it Be" by Frances Havergal, 1874)