In the last two posts found here and here I have looked at what Jesus says in Matthew 6:19-23. There Jesus gave two illustrations concerning how one in the Kingdom should view money–where ones treasure lies and what ones eyes see. The last illustration is found in verse 24:
“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 money.
At first glance it seems that this phrase “no one can serve two masters” is just untrue. I mean, some could respond and say “I serve two masters, I’ve got two jobs—I have two bosses.” But this response fails to understand the meaning behind the word “serve (an unfortunate translation).” The word in the original literally means “to be a slave.” It has to do with the relationship between a slave and a slave-owner. And with that understanding, Jesus’ words make perfect sense. As well know Scholar R.T. France put it:
No one can serve two master is patently untrue; we do it all the time…but a slave was not employed under contract, but was normally wholly owned by the person who had bought him or her.
Just like a slave is unable to devote his life to two slave-owners so Christians cannot be a slave to God and a slave to money. We have to choose one or the other. That’s really the meaning behind the words love/hate in this context—either we will choose God or we’ll choose money, period; you can’t have both! Unfortunately, some become a slave to money. Paul warned Timothy about it:
But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. (1 Timothy 6:9-10)
He even had friends who deserted him for it:
For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica (2 Timothy 4:6)
But Jesus calls us to be a slave of His. This is really the whole point isn’t it? That we are single-minded in devotion to the Lordship of Christ. What he says goes; what he wills we will do; what he desires we desire. Money is nothing, only a means to make His name glorified! We are slaves of Christ!
Being a slave is not the most relevant nor accepted picture I admit, but it is exactly how the New Testament describes us. We are slaves, and we are going to be slaves in one way or another. But when we’re slaves to Christ that makes us slaves to an enormously benevolent master! I heard well-known Pastor, John Macarthur, speak on this idea of slave/master recently. I loved what he had to say:
“I was doing a pastors’ conference with African-American pastors in North Carolina, and the subject came up. We were having a great time. We were in the football stadium at Wake Forest; it’s really kind of a neat place. We were up in this beautiful football complex with a glass window overlooking the football field; all these pastors where there. One of them said, “How in the world am I going to tell my congregation? How am I going to tell my congregation this message about slaves when it has such a stigma? What am I going to tell them?”
And I said, “Well, I’ve got good news for you. You have a loving Master who is all-wise, compassionate, generous, powerful, resourceful, protective, kind, merciful, forgiving, who takes you from being just a slave to making you a slave that is also a friend…Are you ready for this one?…and takes you from being a friend to a son, and not just a son but a joint-heir. And if you follow the rest of the count in the New Testament, you become a citizen of His Kingdom. Do you understand that no slave in the Roman Empire could be a citizen? Couldn’t own anything? Didn’t have any rights? Couldn’t give testimony to a court of law? Couldn’t be defended in court? This is a different kind of slavery. He provides everything you need; makes you an intimate friend and gives you full disclosure of everything that’s on His heart. First Corinthians 2:16, “We have a mind of Christ.” He’s revealed it to us on the pages of Scripture, and He makes us sons, and He makes us heirs and joint-heirs with His own Son and He–we could go on–He makes us reign with Him, citizens of His glorious kingdom.”
And so it is with us. We are slaves of Christ, not our money. For, how we view our money determines how we view God. May we see our money as only a means by which we store our treasures in heaven, view our lives through generous eyes, and never let it control our sole allegiance to Christ!