Matthew 6:24

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.

Luke 16:13

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. 

Romans 12:12

Verse of the Day Devotion: Romans 12:12  

“Rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer,” – Romans 12:12  

One thing we can honestly say is that these are difficult times.  Look at everything that is going on today.  We have a pandemic that is causing havoc throughout our world.  People living in fear that they may be infected by the coronavirus and lose their lives.  We have factions of government that are looking to take advantage of this situation to advance their agendas, and some for their own personal advantage.  The economies of many nations are being destroyed because businesses have shut down in order to lessen the impact this virus has on people.

Crime is increasing as well with people getting desperate over the financial troubles they are experiencing, along with many in prisons being released and returning to the crimes they were originally imprisoned for.  Also, many are concerned about what the future holds for them.  Will they have a job?  Will they be able to pay their bills?  Will they lose their homes due to defaulting on their mortgages or rental agreements? 

These are tough questions.  When I see the news and listen to what people are saying, fear is running rampant within many areas of society.   Especially within the lower and midrange income populations.  But we need to remember that God is with us, and He will watch over us.  “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4. And, “For I am the LORD your God, who upholds your right hand, who says to you, do not fear, I will help you.” Isaiah 41:13. Both verses share a wonderful truth.  No matter what we are experiencing, God is with us, helping us and will bring us through.  He will never give us a promise He will not keep. 

We all will go through trials of one sort or another, and this pandemic is just one of many though more difficult than most.  However, our focus verse is perfect in outlining how we need to push through to the other side.  First, we must rejoice in hope.  We must remember that hope is not what we wish for, but what we know will happen (See Hebrews 1:1).  Because we know God will deliver us from any struggle or trial based on the two verses above, as well as many others, we can rejoice in this hope.  He will be with us through it all as He has promised us He would.  All we need do is trust, believe, and wait for His promise of assistance. 

And because we know He is faithful and will be with us, we can persevere through any trial we may encounter.  It may last an hour, day, week or more.  However, we can be assured that God is beside us all the way from start to finish.  “The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”  Deuteronomy 31:8

And lastly, we must be devoted to prayer.  We must be in a constant attitude of prayer, not closing our spirit to speaking to Him, or hearing from Him.  It is important that prayer be the major tool we use when trials come, fervently praying knowing He hears us, loves us, and will answer us.  Spending time in fellowship with Him will do much to ease our anxiety and bring the peace we so desperately need. 

God loves each one of us.  He desires the best for us, knows what is best, and will bring it to pass.  What we need to do is trust Him in everything.  God has promised us a wonderful future, and it cannot be thwarted.  We must rejoice that this promise of a glorious future is sure.  We must persevere through these times knowing we are not alone, that He is with us, and we must keep in prayer, not only asking for help, but for solace and strength as well.  There is no better way to be at peace in any situation than to trust God.

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