Verse of the Day Devotion: Luke 16:13
“No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” – Luke 16:13
First, I want to clarify the meaning of the word ‘Hate’ in this context. The meaning here is not necessarily to detest and/or despise, but to ‘love less’. As an example, you have a choice between two cars that you can buy. There is one car you absolutely love, while the other you love as well, but not as much. Thus, you love the second car less than the first car. And stating as our focus verse says, the first car you love and second care you hate.
Now, let us look at this verse. We cannot serve two masters. This is fairly clear. I have been in a situation where I had two people over me at the same time. I was a computer programmer responsible for much of the financial systems in the company. There was a time when one wanted me to focus on one problem, whereas the other wanted me to ignore that issue and focus on what he wanted. I had to make a decision as to which one I would serve at that moment, for I could not serve both because they required different duties. Now, I was able to make a decision based on which caused the greatest problems to those who used the programs. As stated, I could not do both because one wanted ‘A’ to be done, while the other wanted ‘B’.
Now, Jesus gives the reason why no one can serve two masters. For we will love one master more than the other. Putting this part of the verse into perspective, the master we love the most will be the master we focus on and serve. Therefore, whatever we love the most is truly our master. So, this leads to the basic question here. Who do we serve? If God requires us to do one thing, and our own desires requires us to do another, who will be our master?
The Greek word translated wealth here is the word ‘mammon’. It is interesting that Jesus uses this word, but it makes very clear what He intended. Mammon was the name given to an idol worshipped as the god of riches. The Jews used this word to denote wealth, and it is not known if any Jews ever formerly worshipped the actual idol Mammon. What He is essentially saying is ‘you cannot serve the true God, and at the same time be supremely engaged in obtaining the riches of this world.‘ And unfortunately, many in this world look to obtain things over and above serving the true God. They are more interested in storing up treasures here on earth. Earlier in this chapter we read, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21.
Putting these ideas together, No one can serve two masters, but that which he loves more will be the one he serves. For if our goal is to gain much wealth in this world, then we do not desire to gain it in the next. And which one will a man store up? It is where his heart is, it is what he loves and desire over the other. It is always a good idea to examine our hearts to see what it is that drives us, what we desire over and above anything else. Which is more important to us. Our lives here and what we can store away or our future life and what we can store away there? So, which do we love the most? This answer makes clear which master we will serve. For as our focus verse says, ‘we will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth” Luke 16:13b.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.