By: Frank I. Williams
Are you ready for the Word!
“No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” Luke 16:13
As I conclude this series of lessons from Luke chapter 16, I draw your attention to verse 13. In this verse Jesus asserts to His followers that, “no on can serve two masters.” At first glance Jesus’ statement may seem unreasonable, especially in an age of multi-tasking, multiple obligations, multi-commitments, and multi-allegiances. However, Jesus is very clear, “no one” can serve two masters. He is speaking about something much deeper. In fact, He is speaking about the covenants of our heart. To what have we given ourselves wholeheartedly?
In the verse He identifies the two masters – God and mammon. Mammon refers to material wealth or riches. Throughout His earthly ministry Jesus taught that material wealth is a tool to be used by humanity and not a goal that should consume humanity. The key to understanding this verse is the use of the word “master.” The word translated master could also be translated lord. It means one who has or exercises absolute ownership rights.
In other words, Jesus is saying, you cannot manage having two owners. Your heart will ultimately choose one or the other. Why? Because God might lead us in a direction that conflicts with the other “stuff” that we permit to exercise ownership rights in our life. For example: In Luke 18:18-25, Jesus counsels a young rich official who wanted to live a life pleasing to God. Jesus gives him one final instruction – to sell his goods and give to the poor. This young man went away saddened, the text said, because “he was very rich.”
The truth be told, many of us could have issue with such a command. But there in lies the point of Jesus’ teaching. Let no “things” have such a hold on you that it becomes your master. When we look across the globe we see unprecedented economic turmoil – cities and nations going bankrupt and nations needing economic bailouts (the worst since the Great Depression). As more stories emerge on the micro level you realize that behind some of this economic crisis was greed in certain markets. The checks and balances were being ignored. There was inflated prices in the housing market, poor loan practices in banking, fraud in investment companies, and just plain corruption on many levels. Could it be that money became a “master?” There is sufficient evidence that when money becomes a master we humans cannot handle it. We forget ethics, compassion, and even sound business practices. We become gluttons for excessiveness.
Jesus warns us, do not become enslaved to pursuing money. 1 Timothy 6:10 states, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” We must keep money in its rightful place. It is a means to an end, not an end in and of itself. It is a tool not an idol. Money can certainly be the result of success and oftentimes is an indicator of success. However, money itself is not success, just as a fruit is not the tree.
If you make the fruit the tree, you will begin to focus on the fruit only and neglect the tree; that is, the principles, people, and processes that moved you on the path of success. If this happens you end up killing the tree. By then many people have accumulated so much “fruit” (money) that they don’t even see that the tree died until there is a crisis. Then you have a global financial crisis or a personal crisis of faith and you realize how far you had drifted from regulations, righteousness, and reasonableness.
You cannot serve God and riches – you will either love one and hate the other or be loyal to one and despise the other. Don’t despise God. Choose to be loyal to Him and His principles for success. Then let your progress, your wealth, and your possessions, be tools to build, bless, and make better the world around you or at the very least the community you serve. Think on these things.