Friday 22 February 2019

Bible Book:

'No one can serve two masters; ' (v. 24a)

Matthew 6:24 Friday 22 February 2019

Psalm: Psalm 80


Not serve two masters? We can’t function in the modern world unless we divide our time and attention between competing priorities! As a project manager, I always had at least two clients to satisfy. Of course, they all liked to believe that they had my sole attention. But before we dismiss this stark saying of Jesus as impractical, notice the word ‘slave’, which is the key to understanding this verse. My relationship with my (sometimes demanding) clients was expressed in a contract, in which both parties had rights and responsibilities. There is no place in our lives for enslavement in the sense Jesus means it, whether to any person or anything. Slavery is, however, a reality for many in our world, even within personal relationships. Our duty must be to challenge it wherever it occurs.

Slavery was endemic in Jesus’ time. Slaves could be treated well – Cicero’s slave Tito was his trusted right-hand man*. Slaves could also be exploited and abused, denied human dignity.  What they all had in common was that they were wholly owned by another person. They were denied an identity, had not humanity of their own.  So when Jesus says having two masters isn’t possible, he’s simply stating the facts – it would be absurd to be wholly owned by two masters at once.

“Which master will you serve?” Jesus asks. All of us must choose. Will we serve the one who promises unbounded love, outrageous grace and eternal life? Or will we do the prudent thing, work hard on securing our future and building a lifestyle to suit us? For most of us it’s not a single decision to renounce possessions and embrace poverty. For some, the choice of poverty seems to have been made for us and we must struggle to make ends meet. But all of us must make choices every day – these choices confirm who we’re really serving. In Bob Dylan’s words: “You’re going to have to serve somebody: it may be the devil or it may be the Lord …”

 *Wright, Tom, Paul: a Biography, loc.4200.


To Ponder:

  • What choices will you make today to confirm your loyalty to God?
  • What are you devoted to that comes between you and God?


Wright, Tom, Paul: a Biography, loc.4200.

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