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, ESV)
Jesus made the remarkable statement above: “no one can serve two masters… you cannot serve God and money”. He clearly implies here that both God and money are masters that somebody can serve. However, it will always be one or the other. What does this mean?
I can probably guess what you are thinking is the meaning of this scripture, because that is what I thought or had heard for a long time. You might be thinking Jesus is speaking to ministers or pastors, right? It seems to fit perfectly the picture that a man or woman of God cannot serve both God and money at the same thing. Yes, this verse is fully applicable to this, but that is NOT what Jesus was saying here.
This brings me to one of the most important principles of correct Bible interpretation: context. Always learn to find out what the author is saying in a particular verse by paying attention to the context and do not try to carry meanings from other passages and fit into the verse. The next verse carries the key to finding out what Jesus was teaching here. It says:
““Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” (Matthew 6:25, ESV)
The word “therefore” is the key connective that connects the verse with verse 24 to give us what Jesus had in mind. He was not talking about those who carry a formal title or ministry calling. He was speaking to every single one of His people. The next key is to understand what it means to “serve God”. I wrote a devotional a few months ago to explain this important concept. Serving God is not limited to working for God. It has two parts: living for God and working for God. For example, there are people who serve sin. They are not “working for sin” but are living in and for sin. Whatever controls your life, emotions, thoughts, desires, words and actions is your MASTER. You can now understand the meaning of this verse. When money, and the concerns of life such as our food, clothing, housing etc CONTROL our emotions and thoughts and make us worry about what to eat, wear, etc, we are SERVING MONEY. This might shock some of you! Both God and money cannot control your life at the same time. The cares of life will either be your Lord or Jesus will be!
Can be this applied to those in ministry? Yes, fully! But this is not what Jesus was specifically talking about there.
What governs your life? In other words, what controls you as your master? Sin is the master for some. Others, it is an addiction. Still others, it is money. For others, it is certain people in their lives. The Lord wants you to serve Him only, meaning nothing should control your life other than Him. For example, there is someone right now who are full of worry because they have a financial need. Jesus says “be anxious for nothing” and the lack of money says “be anxious for your lack of money”. And sadly, money often wins. Many of you do not realize how powerful an influence money has over every one of us. However, it should never be your Lord. I struggle with this problem too and the Spirit of God helps me daily to get my mind and emotions under control by His Word.
For example, is Coronavirus going to be your Lord and have you serve it with your emotions and thoughts through fear and anxiety or Jesus is your Lord, and you will serve Him in peace, joy and rest?
You cannot serve two masters. Refuse to serve money. refuse to serve coronavirus!
Did you catch the important Bible study principle discussed above? Can you say it in your own words?
APPLY THE WORD
Well, there is no way a normal human will not worry in this troubled world. But you are not normal. You have the Spirit of God, and that is the only reason it is possible to refuse serving sin, money, addiction etc. Refuse to serve money!
Ask the Spirit to strengthen you to break free from anything that has kept you bound and forced you to serve it by living for it, including money, sin, bitterness, addiction, fears etc.