Some things are simply and absolutely impossible. It is possible to have more than one friend. In some senses, it is possible to have multiple business relationships. It is possible to maintain close ties with multiple family members. But it is impossible to have two masters. By definition, a master is someone or something with “the ability or power to use, control, or dispose of something.” And although we Americans do not like to think in those terms, every one of us has a master. Our employer or our occupation is the master of many of us; family relationships or friendships master some; hobbies master still others of us; and self is the master of far too many of us. Yes, each one of us has a master, but it is the Lord’s will that we be ruled by the Lord and His Word. And the Word of God has much to say on this subject. We will briefly examine two examples.
“Ye cannot serve God and mammon [“riches”]” (Matt. 6:24). This verse begins thus: “No man can serve two masters.” God’s opinion is right and unequivocal. Either the Lord holds our wallets or we do. There is no joint custody in God’s economy: our stuff is His, or it is ours. When it is ours, we make decisions that are convenient for us or that tend toward our wealth and financial security. When we acknowledge that our stuff belongs to the Lord, we cease to be focused on stuff at all. Our security is in His hands; our provision is in His hands; our wealth or poverty is in His hands. Rather than scrambling for every penny, we do what He sets before us and rest in His provision. Rather than hoarding, we have liberty to be generous—after all, we are simply distributing what belongs to God and what He has placed in our hands temporarily for the provision of our natural needs and those of others. We view our role to be more of a conduit than a depository, more of a channel than a cache. There are no gradations in this standard. Either we yield ourselves to the God who truly owns us and our stuff, or we usurp His authority and steal for ourselves that which belongs to Him. Any time we view it as our right to determine the allocation of the resources in our possession, we have yielded ourselves as slaves to the master of riches. And what seems like independence (the ability to choose what to do with what we have) is the starkest form of slavery (bondage to the god of stuff).
“If I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ” (Gal. 1:10). Men have many opinions and desires that run contrary to the Word of God. Paul declared that he could not please such men because he was the bond-servant of Christ. We must not stick our finger in the wind and determine what is popular or politically correct in order to determine our beliefs and behavior. We must not concern ourselves with what will gain us favor with the rich and powerful or the latest “in group.” We must not proclaim that which will make us the most pleasant or the least objectionable to our acquaintances, friends, and family. We must be faithful to our Savior and Master, Jesus Christ. Every time we say or do the expedient thing, we rebel against our Lord. Natural kindness is often nothing less than spiritual treason. We must live the truth faithfully and testify of the truth fully. Anything else is rebellion against Christ to whom we are to yield ourselves servants. We sometimes credit our failures in these areas to charity—not wanting to offend another. But this excuse masks the reality that we do not have sufficient regard for those around us to “speak the truth in love.” Furthermore, it reveals that we do not love the Lord enough to trust Him and submit to Him in our dealings with others. We are hypocritical rebels, covering our own rebellion with pious words. (I know whereof I speak; I have compromised far too often and have taken the easy rather than the exact course.) We will serve riches or serve God. We will please men, or we will serve Christ. We can not do both.
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