“No one 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” (Matthew 6:24, NKJV).
In Matthew 22:36 Jesus is asked, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” He replies, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment” (22:37-38). Loving the Lord with “all” of our heart, soul and mind does not make room for a divided loyalty. And, in Matthew 6:24, Jesus summarizes that implication quite clearly and concisely with the phrase “You cannot serve God and mammon.”
The term “mammon” is a Chaldee word which refers to earthly “treasures” or “riches” (Thayer). God offers eternal and lasting riches, this world offers temporal and short-term treasures. We cannot serve both. To make this point more clearly it is important to note the terms for “serve” and “master” are borne out of a 1st-century socio-economic setting. In other words, this language was used in a time where slavery was the common norm in the Roman Empire during the time of Christ.
We are so far removed from the system of slavery that it can be difficult to see the point of Jesus as clearly as we ought in our capitalistic society. But, let’s just be clear.
Slaves did not have their own money. They did not earn a weekly paycheck from their masters. The monetary profit they provided their Master was at His disposal. As God’s servants, our money is to be viewed as the Master’s put into our trust as stewards and used as would please Him for the profit of His kingdom and people (see Matthew 21:33; 25:15; 1 Tim 6:17-19).
Slaves did not have their own time. They did not clock in for an eight hour shift and do as they please the rest of the day. They did their master’s bidding 24/7/365. Likewise, we do not serve God once a week or one worship service a week. We are to be “redeeming the time” always (cp. Ephesians 5:16).
Slaves did not have their own possessions. They lived on their master’s property, slept on their master’s bed, ate of their master’s food and worked their master’s land. There was no separation of the master’s property and their own property. They were considered an extension of their Master’s property and possession. They were not their own. Likewise, the decisions we make in our lives are to “glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:20). We are His possession.
Are you considering the Lord’s will in how you use all of this life’s earthly blessings?