“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
Have you ever been in a position at work where you feel caught in the middle of internal politics? When I was a retail manager I seemed to find myself in this position pretty much every day! My day-to-day manager would ask me to do something, and then the store manager would visit on his daily walk round and ask me to do completely the opposite! I felt like a ball being pitched between two people, or like a small child playing “Piggy In The Middle,” the one trapped at the centre. I didn’t know what to do, because it seemed whatever I did I would get it in the neck from one or other of my bosses.
Sometimes being a Christian can feel like that. We try to follow God, to live as he would wish, to work for his glory, but at the same time we live in a world that has turned its back on God. One of the key issues that can be at the heart of the battleground of faith and life in the “here and now” is that of money. As Christians we know that all we have has been given to us by God. We know that we have to be careful stewards of his gifts to us. And we know that we should give money away, to our churches, to charities, to those less fortunate than ourselves. But at the same time, we have to pay the rent, pay our fuel bills, pay the phone bill, put petrol in the car, and feed ourselves. What’s more, in 2013 we find ourselves in a situation where salaries are stagnating or even falling, whilst our bills go up and up. How can we possibly be expected to give money away when we find life such a struggle?
Today’s verse gives a clear warning about our attitude to money. Jesus talks of money being a “master.” He warns us that, as I found in my retail days, it is impossible to serve two masters. If we allow money to dictate our lives, if the acquisition of it becomes the focus of our existence, if it drives all that we do, then it has become our master, and we cannot honestly follow God. Instead, we need to ensure that God is our master, that it is he whom we love, and that it is he who drives all that we do. If we love and trust in God, we trust in his provision, and therefore we do not need to make the acquisition of money the focus of our lives. A tough principle to live by at the best of times, but even more difficult when living in an economic downturn. I’m sure I’m not the only person who needs to pray about this in the coming days!