Verse of the Day Devotion: Matthew 6:24

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” – Matthew 6:24

Jesus, in His famous Sermon on the Mount, is telling His listeners that they cannot be divided in their devotions, specifically if their demands are contrary to the other.  Imagine a man who is subject to two masters, and they desire the house exterior to be painted.  Master 1 tells the man in the morning to paint it blue because blue is his favorite color.  He then goes off on a business trip.  On the same day, master 2 tells him in the afternoon to paint it green because green is his favorite color.  He then goes off on a business trip as well.  Both ordered him to have it completed by the time they get back.  The slave is now in a predicament.  He obviously cannot please both.  If he paints it blue, master 1 will be pleased and master 2 will be angry.  And if he paints it green, master 2 will be pleased and master one will be angry.

This is the idea that Jesus is trying to get across.  We cannot obey two masters.  First, He said we would either hate one and love the other.  According to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, the meaning of ‘hate’ here is the idea of loving less.  Therefore, what He is saying is we will love one more than the other.  In the above example, depending on who the man loves more will determine the color the house will be.

He also said that he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.  In other words, He is saying that regarding opposing commands, we will hearken to one of the master’s and neglect the other.  We will respect the command of the one master and disrespect the other.  Either way, we will anger one of them.

Then He completes this idea by alluding to the reason for this verse.  We cannot serve both God and wealth.  The word translated wealth here actually is deeper than just wealth.  It signifies wealth, but also money, riches and things.  Basically, worldly goods.  There is nothing wrong with worldly things like money, jewelry, cars, etc.    However, which do we love and follow after?  Since we can only serve one or the other, would we give up things for God, or give up God for things?

Jesus gave this very choice to the rich young ruler.  “And someone came to Him and said, “Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?  And He said to him, Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.’  Then he said to Him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER; YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY; YOU SHALL NOT STEAL; YOU SHALL NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS; HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER; and YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF. The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept; what am I still lacking?” Matthew 19:16-20.  This ruler asked Jesus what He needed to do to be saved.  Jesus responded with, because he was no doubt a Jewish ruler, items found in the ten commandments.  The young ruler responded by telling Jesus that he has kept all these things, what else is there?  “Jesus said to him, ‘If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.  But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property.’”  Matthew 19:21-22.

Jesus basically asked the ruler, “would we give up things for God, or give up God for things?”  Unfortunately, he chose the latter.  I believe that we, as Christians, have chosen God over things.  However, it is always good to follow the suggestion of the writer of Lamentations where he wrote. “Let us examine and probe our ways and let us return to the LORD.”  Lamentations 3:40. Are there things we love more than we should?  Can we honestly look at all we have and say there is nothing here I would not give up for Christ?  Maybe so, but the verse above says it is a good idea to examine ourselves periodically.  If everything is good, praise God.  If there is something, pray and determine what you need to do and do it.  This is pleasing to God and of great benefit to us.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.

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