Tuesday 16 August 2016

Bible Book:

“No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” (v. 24)

Matthew 6:24 Tuesday 16 August 2016

Psalm: Psalm 135:1-7


For the next few days we follow passages from the second half ofthe Sermon on the Mount, that collection of Jesus' teaching thatMatthew's Gospel gathers into a sustained, inspiring and oftenuncomfortably challenging address. The Gospel pictures Jesus as aprophetic rabbi, gathering his disciples and giving them hisinterpretation of traditional Jewish devotion and law. The Sermonon the Mount belongs to its own time and context, but speaks intoevery situation. It has been at the heart of Christian renewal andresistance. Many of John Wesley's sermons are based on its verses,and one of the most influential Christian books of the 20thcentury, Dietrich Bonhoeffer's 'Discipleship',interpreted theSermon on the Mount within the rise of Nazism in the Germany of the1930s.

Today's brief passage leaves us with nowhere to hide. It comesas the climax to a section in which Jesus has probed behindconformity to a religious culture and urged his followers to basetheir prayer, fasting and charity on a deep relationship with God.Their treasure, said Jesus (Matthew 6:19-21), is found in God's kingdom;that should be where they invest, not in the apparent wealth of theworld. And that investment requires a single-mindedness whichcombines simplicity with openness to God. Verses22-23 talk about the eye as the light of the body. Recenttranslations refer to a healthy eye, which doesn't quite reflectthe Greek word 'haplous', which carries more of a sense ofsimplicity, sincerity and single-mindedness.

That brings us to today's verse. Slavery was a universal featureof ancient societies and so Jesus' disciples would have understoodthat a slave had no identity of their own, but was completelyidentified with their owner. To have two masters would not simplymean juggling two jobs; it meant having a divided identity. Soeither we identify with God and God's kingdom, or we identify withan alternative. More often than not that alternative turns out tobe wealth and in our contemporary consumerist society we are alltoo easily seduced by its claims.

To Ponder

  • What signs are there in your life that you have become a slaveto wealth?
  • What steps could you take to disinvest from wealth and reinvestin God? 
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