“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.” (Matthew 6:24)
“You cannot serve both God and money!” says Jesus.
“Oh, but I can!” said the zealous pastor. “It’s the love of money, not money itself, that is the root of all evil. The church needs a modern building with hi-tech media equipment to be culturally relevant and attract people to come to church. And people won’t follow a pastor who wears shabby clothes and drives an old car – I have to wear the latest styles and drive a new car or they won’t think that I am successful. To serve You effectively we have to have fundraisers, special offerings, and building campaigns so that people give generously and we have everything we need. After all, Scripture says that we shouldn’t muzzle the oxen and that the elders who teach are worthy of double-honor. We have to have money to serve God!”
Who do you think will win the debate? Is Jesus correct when He declares that we can’t serve both God and money? Do we really have to seek first the kingdom of God and His will in our lives and then trust Him to give us everything else?
Or can we chase after financial gain and pursue possessions galore in the name of Jesus and justify it by saying that our wealth shows His great love for us and His great disdain for those who have nothing?
Anyone who is even a little bit familiar with the Gospels and the teachings of Jesus knows that Jesus had great love for everyone, rich and poor alike, and that He consistently commanded that those who had wealth should share it with those who did not. On multiple occasions He told people to give to the poor. And yet, if you ask people what Jesus said about the poor, they will usually tell you, “the poor will be with you always.” (Mark 14:7)
True, Jesus did say that. But that’s not all he said about giving to the poor! On multiple occasions He told His followers to give to those in need. He told the rich young ruler, and He would tell many of us today, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” And to drive His point home even further, He told us that it is harder for a rich man to get into heaven than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. (Mark 10:25)
"Many churches do indeed care for the poor but many, many more churches are more concerned about paying the mortgage and the pastor’s salary than helping anyone outside the church."
Now if you are like me, you have probably sat through plenty of sermons where it was explained that the rich young ruler was a special exception because he had a deep love for money and that the eye of the needle wasn’t literal but must have referred to a gate in Jerusalem. The problem is that there is no evidence for either argument and the plain truth is that Jesus meant what He said. It really is hard for rich people to enter into heaven because they rely on their riches rather than God. They care more about accumulating wealth than pleasing the Father. The bottom line – pun intended – is that it is time to quit explaining away the teachings of Jesus and start doing what He has commanded us to do!
When Jesus left this earth and ascended into heaven to be with the Father, He said that all authority in heaven and on earth had been given to Him and that we are to go and make disciples who obey everything that He commanded. And He most definitely commanded us to not pursue worldly wealth that rots and fades away but to pursue eternal riches in heaven. He was adamant about giving to the poor and putting the needs of others before our own, and He modeled it by living a simple lifestyle and giving up His life so that we might live.
In short, Jesus commanded it, He modeled it, and He lived it out even unto death so that we might become His followers who inherit eternal life and live in His Father’s house forever. Do we really want to turn our backs on Jesus and trade in our eternal inheritance for temporal wealth and possessions? Think about that before you begin justifying an elaborate lifestyle or explaining why you don’t give to the poor.
And when it comes to the churches that we lead or of which we are a part, shouldn’t churches be leading the way when it comes to giving to the poor and caring for those who are in need? Many churches do indeed care for the poor but many, many more churches are more concerned about paying the mortgage and the pastor’s salary than helping anyone outside the church.
I say this with great sorrow, as I have not done nearly enough to help the poor. And we, as the Body of Christ, could do so much more to make this a better world by being the salt and light that we are supposed to be.
Let’s Pray Together:Lord, forgive me for seeking financial gain or material possessions when I should have been seeking Your kingdom and Your will in my life. Forgive me for putting my trust in bank accounts and possessions instead of putting my trust in You. Help me to put my trust in You and You alone, and help me to seek You and Your will in my life above all else. And Lord, forgive me and my church for not doing more for the poor. Help us to do more, whether we do it individually or by organizing a ministry or giving to the local rescue mission. Help me to follow You and to give and serve in the following ways… (continue praying as you feel led…)