No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. Matthew 6:24
I’ve talked to people over the years who, in considering service to God and in some cases even obedience to God, have weighed God’s call against how it would work out for them financially. But as Jesus told His disciples in His continuing discourse on Christian living, “No one can serve two masters” (Matthew 6:24).
Who Will We Serve?
A servant is one who’s totally submitted to a master. Jesus made it clear that we need to decisively choose whom we will serve: “You cannot serve God and mammon” (6:24). “Mammon” is a synonym for “wealth” or “riches.” Jesus isn’t saying that we can’t possess wealth; He is saying that riches must not possess us.
As Christians, we know better than to store up treasures on earth. And really, serving God or serving mammon—it’s not even a fair matchup. But even though we know that the fruit of serving God will far outweigh material gain, we sometimes think, Oh, if I could just get that … But once we get the thing we desperately want, it usually doesn’t take long for us to lose the thrill of having it.
Our True Calling
Jesus reminds us here to guard our hearts against the temptation to prioritize material things and instead to focus our attention on our true calling—Christ’s kingdom. Jesus and riches both can’t be our master. It’s one or the other.
Sadly, many people devote their lives to acquiring material things—only to end up empty. Jesus spoke a parable about a prosperous businessman whose fields yielded a massive harvest. The man said, “I’m going to take it easy and enjoy all my wealth. I’ll build bigger barns and fill them with grain and then just relax from now on.” What did Jesus say about that man? That he was a fool. That man didn’t realize that that very night, his life would be required of him. And so it is, Jesus said, with everyone who is rich in this world but not rich toward God (see Luke 12:16–20).
Paul warned Timothy, “Those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But you, O man of God,” Paul said to Timothy, “flee these things” (1 Timothy 6:9–11).
The Thirsty Soul
The Christian life runs counter to the world. As the world clamors for riches and the heart cries out for more and more material things, let’s remember the words of Jesus: No one can serve two masters. Mammon can never deliver what it promises, it can never satisfy. Jesus satisfies the thirsty soul and through Him we can learn, like Paul, to be content in all things.