Does Life Have You Going in Circles?Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
There is nothing more confining than trying to keep all your options open. The Arc de Triomphe is the meeting place of the twelve grand boulevards that stretch out across Paris like spokes on a giant wheel. The traffic from each of these boulevards pour into a huge traffic circle that sits like a concrete skirt around the base of the great arch.
There are no lanes.
Cars just zig and zag and weave their way around the arch. During a visit to Paris, we took several circuits to get to our boulevard, and as we circled, I developed a mental fantasy of people trying to keep all their options open by circling and circling and never choosing a boulevard. Ironically, if the people in the traffic circle want to be free, they have to choose a course. To see the City of Lights, choose a boulevard. That’s why Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters.”
One of the reasons we make such slow progress in our daily walk with Jesus is that we’re always trying to keep our options open. We try to negotiate compromises with God. We hope we can work out an arrangement where we give some attention to God and the things of God and some attention to mammon and the things of mammon. We stay in the freeway loop around downtown but never reach our destination.
And what is this mammon about which Jesus speaks? Mammon is shorthand for possessions, property, money, success, treasures, appearance, wealth, and status. Notice that it’s not a sin to have these things. In fact, life on earth without them would be quite difficult. It is not a sin to have them, but it is a sin to serve them—to make them your gods—to march to their drumbeat.
Recently, Terri and I were adopted by a dog that looks like some mixed breed of pit bull. He showed up one day, and we can’t get rid of him. He sleeps on a bench on our front porch. He drinks from our bird bath. We really, really don’t want a dog, but he looks at us with those big sad eyes. You know the look. But why would I want to invite a mixed breed pit bull into my family? We have grandchildren all under eight. This dog seems gentle enough, but it’s a pit bull. According to the news, they sometimes go into a rage. What if the dog were to hurt one of our grandchildren? I write this with apologies to all the pit bull lovers. I’m speaking here figuratively and only on the basis of their reputation.
Jesus warns us that mammon can be like a pit bull, friendly and pleasant enough but then suddenly doing violence to the things we love. Notice the words that Jesus uses—love/hate, devote/despise. This is serious business. Choosing the road that Jesus travels doesn’t mean sacrificing all pleasures. Instead, following Jesus means discovering how to live without turning away from him.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: What aspects of your life make you feel most trapped? When do you feel most free? When you really take Jesus seriously and follow him closely, what is that like?
PRAYER: Forgive me, Lord, for being so reluctant to follow you wholeheartedly. It’s just that I am afraid. If I follow you with all my heart, soul, mind, and will, I fear I’ll have to sacrifice certain freedoms and pleasures that I enjoy. Please help me to discover how to live life without letting my life turn me away from you. Amen.
Borrowing and Lending
Is it okay for Christians (or Christian businesses) to borrow money? To encourage others to borrow money? To lend money? What does the Bible have to say about appropriate interest rates for loans and credit? Come join us at our virtual table for a discussion about Borrowing and Lending. It’s difficult to purchase a car or a home or an education without agreeing to pay installments on that commodity for many years into the future. Is this what God has in mind for us and for our resources, or are we overthinking things here? Are there practical steps we can take to avoid borrowing money, and does it matter if we’re borrowing money from a family member or from a financial institution? We welcome your stories, your thoughts, and your experiences, whether you’re a borrower or a lender. What have you learned about God, his great gift of redemption, and his work of restoration through the experiences of borrowing and lending the resources entrusted to you?