By Allen White
No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight.
Verses like these cause a lot of people to stop reading and turn the page. They provoke guilt feelings and old Bob Dylan references – “You’re got to serve somebody” after all.
If money were merely a thing, it wouldn’t be a big deal. It would be a means to an end. Yet, Jesus recognized serving money as an alternative to serving God. It’s not merely fiscal. Money is a force. No wonder we get so up in arms about it.
Money talks. We run into trouble, when as Rick Warren says, “Our net worth determines our self-worth.” We can allow money to put a price tag on our efforts. Paychecks and commissions define who we are and what we can accomplish. It eludes us into believing that chasing after more of it will satisfy us. But, more doesn’t satisfy – only God satisfies.
Then, there are those who have money and believe that it entitles them to do what they want, to say what they want, and to control others. There is a big difference between acting god-like and being godly. There is no evil in money (1 Timothy 6:10), but are they using their affluence for influencing others for Christ (Luke 16:9)?
I know what you’re thinking – can we get off of this money thing already? But, here’s the deal – Jesus is just going to hit us up with this again in a few weeks anyway (Matthew 6:19-24).
The bottom line is this: do you have money or does money have you? What’s odd is that people who make a good living, but aren’t rich, tend to struggle with greed more than the truly wealthy. Why? We’re deceived into thinking that money will make us comfortable, secure, better looking, and more likeable. Think again.
Many people with money don’t know who their true friends are. They have to call into question every invitation from every person. “Do they want to get to know me for me or for my money?” On top of that, the more stuff you have, the more stuff you have to worry about, insure, replace.
Jesus was simply saying, “If you’re going to pick a god to serve, then choose one who can completely satisfy you, provide significance to your life, meet all of your needs, give you security, and be a pleasure to serve.” Hint here – it’s not money.
Years ago I heard a story of a man on vacation on the beach in Mexico. He came upon a Mexican fisherman who was fishing from the shore. The man would fish for half of a day, sell his fish and go home. The vacationer challenged the fisherman to work a full day, so he could afford a boat.
The fisherman asked, “Why would I do that?”
The vacationer replied, “Well, if you get a boat, then you’ll catch more fish, which can help you to acquire more boats. Eventually, you will need your own warehouses, processing plant, brand, marketing, and sales force. Then, when your company has grown sufficiently, you can sell it to a multinational conglomerate and retire. Wouldn’t it be great to retire well? What will you do when you retire?”
The fisherman smiled and answered, “When I retire, I will fish for half a day from the shore, and then go home.”
The problem with running the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat. What are you pouring your life into? What are you pursuing? If you catch it, what will you do with it? What will it do with you? “Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor” (Proverbs 21:21).
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