Money: You Cannot Serve to Masters
“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” (Matthew 6:24)
This month I want us to take a look at money. While it is a gift from God (Dt. 8:18), the Bible is replete with warnings about the dangers associated with it. Money is not inherently sinful. Rather, we sin when we don’t see money rightly and approach it with correct attitudes. It is the love of money that is a root of all kinds of evils. It is in craving money that some have wandered away from the faith and have ended up in ruin (1 Tim. 6:10).
In the last half of Romans 6 the point is made that we have been set free from sin to serve a new master. Yet our old master pursues us. It allures us and tempts us to turn away from God and indulge in its pleasures. If sin is our master, money can be thought of to be its overseer. Sin will use money to make us subservient, however, not by punishing us, but by promising good things. In fact, money will present itself as a god. How so?
Consider that money promises the same things that God promises. It promises to provide. All your needs will be met. It promises joy, happiness and fulfillment. You can buy whatever pleasures and entertainment you want. Certainly, once you have enough you won’t have to work and you can pursue your dreams. It promises security. When the unexpected occurs, you can buy your way out of it. Everything (everyone?) has its price. In short, money promises to take care of you. You can rest in money.
We know, however, that true rest is found only in God’s provision for us in Jesus Christ. He is our rest (Heb. 4). It is in God’s provision that we trust, not in the uncertainty and false promises of money (1 Tim. 6:17). We experience the fullness of joy in abiding in the vine (John 15:1-11), not in money. We don’t have to chase after material security now, for if we lose all, should we lose our very life, we gain everything in the kingdom prepared for us (Phil. 1:21, Matt. 25:34).
When we consider what God has done for us in Christ, when we consider what he has promised us, we are moved to worship. Money, as a master, seeks to steal that worship by offering the same things as God, by making the same promises. Money, like not much else that I can think of in this world, promises us everything.
You would think that the choice of who to serve, given two masters who are making the same promises, but knowing one leads to life and the other to death is a no-brainer. Wouldn’t we choose God? Why, then, does money have such an allure? The answer is what Gavin proclaimed in his sermon last week on Romans 7:7-13. We are a covetous people. We covet what we see. In this material world we can’t escape all of the “stuff” we want to have. We see the rich living “the good life”. The pressures that we face, that the rich seem to buy their way out of, are immediate. They are ever present. God does not promise us our best life now. He promises our best life later, after being called to a life of self-denial and cross bearing. Like hedonistic children who can’t think of deferring gratification, we want it all now even if we are promised much more later.
Another reason money has such an allure is that it is something we can work for. We can put our faith in ourselves and our ability. This strokes our pride and self-sufficiency and stands in stark contrast to putting our faith in God’s promise of rich reward to come. This reward is unattainable apart from the grace both to believe and to bear fruit. It is a gift appropriated by faith.
May God help us to see that money isn’t just a vice. It isn’t just a temptation. It is a rival god whose promises we have to utterly reject as false. May God grant us spiritual maturity to fix our gaze on eternity and to count all in this life as loss if it means we should gain Christ and a heavenly reward.
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