Sermon on the Mount: Two Masters
“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”
Matthew 6:24 NASB1995
Jesus continues in the Sermon on the Mount to emphasize the need for us to put God first and last in our lives. By first serving material things and wealth (as our master), we cannot truly be devoted to God.
I remember my working years and how often I checked the balance on my 401K, which was going to translate into a lot of our retirement income. Market downturns and stock volatility would make me lose sleep. Money was the master and we were very careful about being generous, unless there were possible tax benefits involved. I know some people that do day trading and obsess over every opportunity to buy or sell in up or down markets. Our society is centered on finance and monetary performance, whether we like it or not.
When I started to put my trust in God to provide and have an eternal perspective (I’m still a beginner in this way), I began to relax about markets and investment returns. It’s interesting to note that I haven’t checked the balances on our retirement IRAs once during this most recent economic turmoil that is occurring and our first fruits always go to God through tithing, regardless of inflation rates. But money is still on people’s minds much more than they think about God. Our money needs to serve God first and He will pour abundance on us in ways we cannot imagine (I’m not talking about prosperity Gospel here - Abundance comes from being lavishly generous and serving others and it will be returned to us with “interest”, now or in eternity).
Here’s what David Guzik says in his commentary on this passage at Enduring Word:
i. Jesus states that serving two masters is a simple impossibility. If you think that you are successfully serving two masters, you are deceived. It can’t be done. As ancient Israel struggled with idolatry, they thought they could worship the Lord God and Baal. God constantly reminded them that to worship Baal was to forsake the Lord God. To be loyal to the one is to despise the other.
ii. “In the natural sphere it is impossible for a slave to serve two masters, for each claims him as his property, and the slave must respond to one or other of the claims with entire devotion, either from love or from interest.” (Bruce)
iii. It can be simply said: Don’t serve your money. Let your money serve the Lord and it will serve you.
My next Sermon on the Mount devotional will examine Matthew 6:25-34, the Cure for Anxiety.
Commentary by David Guzik on Enduring Word is used with written permission.