Friday, February 29, 2008

Who’s Your Master?

“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; NASB)

The term “master” here denotes someone who has sovereign authority or control over another. This means exclusive control over another’s actions and priorities. This is not the same as someone who may hold two jobs, devoting a portion of their time to two different bosses. In the sense of someone possessing sovereign authority, it means that they have final say in what that person does. In reference to the master and servant or bond slave relationship, the word used in Scripture is the Greek “doulos”, and refers to someone who surrenders their will for that of another. This involves giving up one’s own interests to be devoted to the interests of the other party. Only one master can have total control at any given time. Here, there can only be one master in control; either God, or wealth. Wealth encompasses anything associated with worldly goods; money, homes, anything falling under the umbrella of worldly possessions.

The sad thing is that it is possible to be involved in church activity, but actually have your heart set on worldliness. The scribes and the Pharisees did just that. They were heavily involved in religious activity, but their hearts were far from being devoted to God. This same situation is described in Isaiah, where the people gave lip service to their devotion to God, keeping their routine religious traditions, but their hearts were far from God.

“ 13 Then the Lord said, "Because this people draw near with their words And honor Me with their lip service, But they remove their hearts far from Me, And their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote,”(Isaiah29:13; NASB)

The term hate as it is used in Scripture, does not necessarily mean in an outright emotional sense. It is often used in the sense of having less regard for. In Romans 9:13, speaking in reference to Jacob and Esau, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated”, is not referring to outright emotional hatred, but the fact that God chose Jacob to receive divine blessing, and left Esau to receive judgment. Another passage we can look at is Luke 14:26, where our Lord is describing what it takes to be His disciple.

26"If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.”
(Luke 14:26; NASB)

Here, hate is not used in the sense of deep emotional hatred, but rather it is speaking of holding lesser regard for. Matthew 10:37 helps us to understand this tough command.

37"He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.” (Matthew 10:37; NASB)

Our love for anything or anyone must be less than our love for God. It is the love of this present world that causes people to forsake any commitment to God and His kingdom. Such was the case with Demas in 2 Timothy 4:10. When the going got tough, he abandoned the work of Christ and deserted Paul.

Scripture is replete with warnings concerning the love of money and the world. James 4:4 tells us that “friendship with the world is hostility toward God” and that if we choose to “be a friend of the world” we become an enemy of God. Scripture warns us not to “love the world or anything in the world” , and for those that do, “the love of the Father” is not in them (1 John 2:15). All that is identified with the world is opposed to God.

“For everything in the world – the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does – comes not from the Father but from the world.”
(1 John 2:16-17; NIV)

We are admonished in the Bible to be content with what we have. It is discontentment with what we have that breeds self-indulgent greed for money. Those that allow an attitude of discontentment to take root, develop a consuming desire for acquiring more money that drives them to make foolish decisions. This can ultimately end in a ruined life, and the peril of destruction and eternal punishment.

“6But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. 7For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. 8If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. 9But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”
(1 Timothy 6:6-10; NASB)

Our culture has a tendency to pull at us to go along with the world’s philosophy, particularly with materialism. We are bombarded with numerous advertising schemes aimed at breeding discontentment with what we have, and it is too easy to get caught up in it. We need to continually guard ourselves from the love of money, since it can easily draw our hearts away from God.

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