|A. Our Heart's Division
B. Our Heart's Commitment
Meaning of Mammon
We cannot live without some form of loyalty in our soul. We all live for something. Jesus pointed out the relationship between the heart and what we do in Matthew 6:21, "for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."
Our first love is what we worship. When Jesus was asked to summarize the greatest command, He quoted the OT saying, that we needed to love God with all our heart, soul and strength. Those we worship we love.(1) Those we love we worship. Each of us worship something or someone. Who do you worship? What are your choices? Can you be sure you do not worship other things? Jesus is asking in this passage that each of us identify for whom or what we live. He wants us to clarify our commitment.
I hope you can sense how difficult this is to do. Most of us ignore this type of analysis because we are hiding certain other loves. We do not clearly think about it in order to avoid the voice of our conscious. Jesus says that a careful examination is critical because otherwise we might miss out on the kingdom. Do you want to wait until Judgment Day to know for sure where you stand? Probably not. Jesus doesn't want you to wait either. Through this passage on "Serving Two Masters," He helps us clarify a few important points.
Principle #1 "No one can serve two masters"
This "No one can serve two masters" is a powerful statement that instigates two challenges.
1) Compromisers see no problem serving more than one master.
They say, "Why can't I serve more than one master?!" Those who worship different gods see no problem with this. How can Jesus say what they had done is impossible? I myself have known of people who go to one god for one thing and another god for something else. If one god doesn't provide, then they go to another and make their devoted acts before that god. Yet Jesus' words are so straightforward. We only can serve one master.
Jesus is stating that the real problem is a delusion among the worshippers. They think they worship a couple of gods, but in fact they worship one - themselves. They use these gods to get what they want. They are the real god, and they are making a sort of spiritual business deal with these other gods. One can see the devotion they give them is dependent on what they get.
Are you willing to trust God with how He cares for our needs? Is what God wants more important than what you want? One example that comes to mind is the determination to only date Christians. But if one does not find a mate after waiting what seems to be a long time, that one dates a non-Christian against God's will. Or if God does not give a promotion when we are honest, we lie a bit to make our division look good. What is our justification? " ...after all others do it." The solution is three-fold. Repent. Proclaim your sole devotion to God and to disavow any allegiance to any other god including your own self-preferences.
2) Independent thinkers have a problem that they have a master at all!
Jesus with His strong statement does stir up another problem. Some think they have no master at all. This is a very Western problem. Westerners and especially the degenerated American culture can't stand the thought that they are not the masters of their lives. After looking at the culture, including the Christian culture, with all the strong assertions of freedom and rights, we can easily conclude that people have not made God the God of their lives. Man is so egotistical that he thinks the government, parents, jobs and even God owe him everything.
How many of you think you have a master at all?! Jesus is not fooled and neither should we be. Christians don't mind God being God just so He does what they want! They like the idea that Jesus is their friend, a help in the time of need.
Many of our problems in life are because we are not clear about our own lives. Americans spend millions of dollars paying others to tell them about themselves. The key issue is for us all is to really understand our heart. Our heart is not free. Our heart has a master. But Jesus puts a limit on it: He says only one master. And this makes a lot of sense. When their is conflict of authority, then there comes lot of confusion. If you work for two bosses, which do you observe and when? What happens when there is a conflict?
If we have to accept the fact that we have a master, then we like to think that we are generous with our affection and have several masters. Jesus knows us in and out. At the deepest control point of our lives, we will find that there is only one control center, and that we can focus only in one direction. Our confusion is that we think that the attention we give to this or that, we think that we are serving many rather than one. Jesus says it is only one. His point is that your service is still for one master. You do those things, but really it is for you. Just like what those gods people go to. They pray to them so that they can get things to satisfy themselves. If one doesn't work, they go to another. Are their chief interests the gods? No. It is themselves. It is wanting things - the things of the world.
We will find that if we look closely at the above two statements that they are essentially the same but just not perceived the same way. But let us go on and see the explanation Jesus gave for this powerful statement about having only one master. He first speaks of our affected devotion and then loyalty.
Principle #2 "Either he will hate the one and love the other"
Devotion: "for either he will hate the one and love the other,"
Down deep in our hearts is a tug of war testing our devotion. New Christians often get stale at this point of confusion. They feel the tug of the world. They compromise on some truth - even some small issue. It doesn't matter just so you are vaguely aware of God's expectation. Resistance is rebellion. You at this point have not wholeheartedly shown your devotion to be for the Lord. It might be giving less than you should or talking rudely to someone and not apologizing to them. God wants you to do something but you resist. It is at this stage you have lifted up your own preferences above God. It is then you feel the tug of war.
Application What you should simply do is apologize for being so stubborn to follow your own will and comply to the Lord's. When we do this, we affirm our love for God. No part is held back from Him. If we follow our sight and desires, we will form a lie to quiet the Spirit of God, and legitimize our sinful heart to ourselves. You cannot win a race by looking back. You cannot do your best on a test by worrying about how you will do. The Christian's duty is to daily reaffirm his devotion to the Lord. "All for Jesus..."
Principle #3 "or he will hold to one and despise the other."
A person's devotion will be evident in his loyalty. If he is truly devoted, then he must be truly loyal. It can look like he serves one god, but if his chief motivation is for another purpose, then we find that he does not serve the first one at all. The Lord God is one God and He demands complete loyalty from us. The OT speaks about idols and throughout the OT trace the downfall of God's people when they tolerate idol worship. The NT doesn't often use the phrase idol worship' but more often condemns worldliness.' Worldliness is not just another kind of Christian but one that has left his faith in God. His loyalty shows up in his following the practice of the world.
Application A good example your desire to be accepted by those around you. They might not be a Christian, but you want to hang around them. You want them to be your friends because they are cool. But this is a test of loyalty. Actually, I have found that you can be loyal to the Lord and still often be friends with people. They will tease you, but often they silently respect you. One reason is that they know you are a true kind of friend and not just pretending.
Jesus' statement of not being able to serve two masters is very revealing. Once we accept His statement as true, then we can more clearly examine our own hearts. Being cold to your husband because he deserves it or forgetting to be tender with your wife because she is so rough with her affection, are not just issues between your husband and wife, but between you and the Lord. Have you been loyal to your Lord regardless to the actions of those around you? Have you preferred to do your own will instead? If this is so, then you have chosen to serve the goddess of self.
The way to praise God is to give Him your all. Any compromise is idolatry or worldliness and everything you touch becomes dull. If worship, reading God's Word, your fellowship group has become dull. The most likely culprit is worldliness. You have compromised with the Lord. You have resurrected your old man and focused on his will. Turn back to the Lord's grace now.
Jesus wanted to lay out the net wide before He drew it closed. After talking in general words about our tendency to excuse our compromises as normal, Jesus speaks specifically of the god most are dedicated to. The last line of Matthew 6:24 says, "You cannot serve God and mammon."
Let me explain what mammon means.
Mammon is a Hebrew word. Although we are not very sure, it seems that the word mammon comes from the same Hebrew word that we get "Amen." Notice we simply need to add the consonant "m" in front of "amen" to get mammon. While English does has end changes, the initial sounds rarely change. In Hebrew both the front, middle and end can change! Amen means reliable, truthful. Mammon were those things which we could lean upon and trust. Mammon is used negatively here in Matthew of course, but it did not always had a negative connotation. It is often used neutrally for property and goods. "Mammon is used objectively for resources, not merely in money, but also in property and anything of value (e.g. Slaves).
Jesus is the only one who used the word mammon in the Bible. It is used four times:
Mt 6:24 "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
Lu 16:9 "And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by means of the mammon of unrighteousness; that when it fails, they may receive you into the eternal dwellings.
Lu 16:11 "If therefore you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous mammon, who will entrust the true riches to you?
Lu 16:13 "No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other, or else he will hold to one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon."
And again, we come back to what I believe many of us would astonishingly ask, "What do you mean me serving my possessions?!" They might insist they give to the church.They give to a certain missionary. They even give a few coins to the poor at times. And one feels that he gives quite a lot especially compared to how much he thinks others give.
But we could be giving a little and fool ourselves by living in a whole world of compromise. Firstly, check your treasures. How much did you actually give of your total income to the Lord before taxes? Are you squeaking out an average of 2.5% as most Christians? That is only $2.50 out of every hundred dollars. We can pride ourselves on what we gave and forget how much we kept! If this is true with you, then your own giving doesn't match up with your confession. You serve mammon. Jesus says your heart has shown its true colors. Positively, since God has made us some of the richest people of the world, then we should rightly be giving upwards of 20-30%. How much you leave for yourself shows your heart.
Let me give an example of how we are so devious. We sometimes hear how generous America is in giving lots of international aid. And it is true we contribute great amount of money to other countries. Total US AID in 1997 for Mexico was $17.8 million. However, $12.9 million (72.58%) of it was spent on population activities including : contraception, sterilization and abortion. Of the $25+ million given to Philippines we gave $22 million for population program and only 3 millon for health services. "A Philippine nurse testified to a Washington press conference asked "Are you trying to help mothers in my country, or just stop them from having children?"
Not a few people are convinced there are too many people in the world and that if we are going to have a sane earth environment, we need to control the population. But given that many countries value having numerous children and do not easily listen to propaganda, great monies are utilized to devise sneaky means to eliminate great numbers of their population. I suggest that the harm we bring the nations is much worse than happened in Littleton, Colorado. We are purposely destroying families and populations, not just our own but other nations. Ostentatiously it looks like we are so noble in our giving. But we are clearly using money to dictate our philosophy of death upon the other nations. Instead of promoting health we are destroy the lives of children and destructing families.
Lastly, we test our hearts. Though I confess it is hard to get down to our motivations, we must in the end ask, "Why are we giving?" Is it so others think well of us? Is it the price for acceptance among others? Giving is a form of worship in which we give what is truly His. G. Timothy Johnson in the Covenant Companion (9/1990) observed.
"Some say, dedicate the heart and the money will follow; but our Lord put it the other way around. If your treasure is dedicated, your heart will be dedicated. If it is not, it simply won't."It is time that we make sure that we have dedicated our treasures to the Lord. The tithe is merely a law of the OT. God is asking for our all. He wants us not to live for what we have or need, but for Him. He wants us to be committed to Him today and not to some vague day in the future.
Let me close with a story from Dostoevski about a woman who died and was consigned to eternal torment. In her agony she cried out for mercy. After much time had passed, an angel answered, "I can help you if you can remember an altogether unselfish thing you did while on earth." It seemed easy, but when she began to recite her good deeds, she realized that every one of them had been done from a motive of self-interest. Finally, at the point of despair, she remembered a carrot she had once given to a beggar. She feared to mention it, because it had been a poor withered carrot that she would never have used in the stew she was preparing anyway.
But the angel consulted the record, and the record showed that the act had been prompted by unselfishness not great unselfishness, or it would have been a better gift, but it did qualify as unselfishness. The carrot was lowered on a slender string down through the space between heaven and hell. Could this weak thing bear her weight? Desperation made her try. When she grasped the withered carrot, she found herself slowly rising. Then, she felt a weight dragging at her. She looked down and saw other tormented souls clinging to her, hoping to escape with her. "Let go! Let go!" she cried. "The carrot won't hold us all!" But grimly, desperately, they held on. Again, she cried, "Let go! This is my carrot, I tell you. It's mine." At that point, the string broke. Still clutching the carrot she had reclaimed for herself, the woman fell back into the torment of hell."
You are committed but to whom? What do you have to show for it? Is your heart committed to loving god and others or loving yourself. The God you choose will clarify your destiny. Psalm 1 says on judgment day the godless will be blown away like chaff. Come now and throw your gods away. Burn them up or they will burn you up. God is demanding your whole heart, your whole soul and your whole mind. Let us give Him nothing less.
What do you really want?
What are your truest dreams?
|Matthew 1:22-23||Bridge of Life; Immanuel|
|Matthew 5-7||Sermon on Mount: Introduction, Outline, Bible Study|
|Matthew 5:1-12||The Eight Beatitudes|
|Matthew 5:22-44||Sermon on Mount: Six Test Cases of Love|
|Matthew 5:33-37||Sermon on Mount: Walking in Integrity|
|Matthew 6:21||Sermon on Mount: Detecting Heart Divisions|
|Matthew 15:21-28||Staying Focused on God's Will|
|Matthew 17:24-27||Trusting God for money|
(1) I know that some people worship idols out of fear. The love or affection toward these idols is different but not totally different. For in worshiping such idols they are seeking protection, help, wealth, guidance, etc. Each god offers something. What does he offer? Indeed they cannot provide such things, but their willingness to bow down, offer incense and offerings, all point to their love of their selves. For example, if they worship a god of death, they love life. They are trying to be on good terms with the god of death so that they do not offend it.