When I was in high school, I was fascinated by the stories of ancient mythology. The stories of gods and goddesses were romantic and epic. They seemed to elevate the human attributes to superlative natures. The human characteristics of beauty, strength, speed and agility were all personified into the identities of a deity. Human desires and personal ambitions were possessed by the gods and in order to attain them you had to trick, steal or be lucky enough to be granted these attributes. The funny thing is that they were, to one level or another, actually attainable in the world. And now days physical beauty can be purchased out of a bottle, or through surgery, or from one clothing emporium or another. Strength is easily attainable if you have enough time, know the right trainer or belong to the right gym. And speed, whether earthly or heavenly easily comes at a price. After all you can fly into space for 12 minutes for the paltry price tag of $28 million dollars.
These ancient gods are all around us. They are available for a price or a commitment or our devotion. In the litany of the hours, one of my favorite psalms is 135: 5 “For I know that the LORD is great. And that our Lord is above all gods. (in other translations it reads “greater than all gods”). Isn’t that what all of these things are all about? The greater of all the gods? Which god is greater my body or my savior? How about having to choose between my comfort and possessions and my savior? Or the ultimate god, my opinion and my Lord?
Towards the end of the Gospel, Jesus says “No servant can serve two masters.” This comes at the end of a discourse on dishonest wealth and being trustworthy. I have to admit that while this verse makes sense the overall passage gets a bit muddled.
The version in Mathew is a bit simpler.
Matthew 6: 24 reads: “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.”
This, to me, is clear and sort of a no brainer. One of these two has to be our greater god. So, let’s say for a moment that it is our Lord. Does that mean that we give up all other gods? How do we eat, stay warm, get to Gunny? This is the next few verses in Matthew 6:
“For this reason, I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is life not more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the sky, that they do not sow, nor reap, nor gather crops into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more important than they? And which of you by worrying can add a single day to his life’s span? And why are you worried about clothing? Notice how the lilies of the field grow; they do not labor nor do they spin thread for cloth, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided to you.”
Here in lies the difference between our other wants and our needs. It is the importance that we place on those things becomes the discriminator. It is the difference between “eagerly seeking” and “not being worried”.
The final caution, in the gospel is: “you justify yourselves in the sight of others, but God knows your hearts”. And that is the place where He know us and we know that He is our Lord over all those gods.
Jesus said to his disciples:
“I tell you, make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth,
so that when it fails, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.
The person who is trustworthy in very small matters
is also trustworthy in great ones;
and the person who is dishonest in very small matters
is also dishonest in great ones.
If, therefore, you are not trustworthy with dishonest wealth,
who will trust you with true wealth?
If you are not trustworthy with what belongs to another,
who will give you what is yours?
No servant can serve two masters.
He will either hate one and love the other,
or be devoted to one and despise the other.
You cannot serve God and mammon.”
The Pharisees, who loved money,
heard all these things and sneered at him.
And he said to them,
“You justify yourselves in the sight of others,
but God knows your hearts;
November 6, 2021
November 6, 2021