No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
There can only be one #1. On a football team, there is a QB1 and a QB2 (the starter and the back-up). On a major league baseball team, there is the #1 starter and the #2 starter, and so on. There are no co-starters. One is either #1 or not. It’s the same thing in life. We can only have one #1 priority. It sounds nice to say “God is my number one priority.” Many of us want to believe that God is out number one priority and focus. But is it really true?
What is the number one way we spend our time? Most of us would probably say “at work.” That’s my number one place I spend time. Number two would probably be sleep. Number three would be family. Number four would be entertainment—watching sports or movies (which might also combine with number three because I generally do that with family). Next would be hobbies—my yard. I spend time driving each week, maybe more hours than I spend in the car. Eating takes time. And then it would be exercise, followed by personal hygiene. Let’s face it, we spend at least half an hour a day in the bathroom. I’m embarrassed to check how long I spend on my phone each day mindlessly trolling the internet and social media. If you audited how you spend the 168 hours that comprise each week, where would prayer and Scripture reading rank on the list? Do they make the top ten in things you spend your time on? This is not meant to be an indictment of anyone, just a rhetorical question, because how we spend our time says a lot about our priorities. A close look at how we spend our time would probably indicate that for many of us, including me, our priorities as far as how we spend our time need a little bit of tweaking.
What is the number one way we spend our money? Mine is my mortgage. I suspect that is true for many of us. Some other things on people’s yearly budgets include car payments, insurance, utilities, travel, entertainment, education, clothes, medical bills, prescriptions, etc. Where does our stewardship to God’s church come in—before or after alcohol? Coffee? Eating out in restaurants? Again, this is not meant to be judgmental or critical, just a rhetorical question, because how we spend our money also says a lot about our priorities. In Matthew 6:21 (only a few verses before today’s verse), Jesus says “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Notice that it does not say “Where you heart is, your treasure will be.” It’s not the heart which leads and the treasure follows. It’s the treasure that leads and the heart follows the treasure.
In Matthew 6:24, Jesus says “No one can serve two masters.” There can only be ONE master. So, who is the master of your life? Is it God? Is it money? Is it yourself and your ideas? It’s interesting that in today’s world, many people who profess to be Christians are out protesting for things that are markedly un-Christian. These ideas are not supported by Scripture, theology, history or Tradition. Can God really be the master if the ideas one espouses most loudly are not in line with God?
Now one might argue that we are all sinners, and this is true. Does that make sin our master? This is where the word struggle comes in. If I fall to the same sin many times, that makes me human, we all fall to the same sin. The hope is that we wage a struggle against each sin, with the goal of lessening our tendency to fall towards certain sins. If we are not at least in a struggle, then the sin has become our master. For instance, if one drinks excessively every day, or uses drugs, or looks at inappropriate things on the internet and does these things daily without thought or struggle, then those things have become the master. If we struggle against our sins, then God is still our master, because we are struggling/working to serve Him.
In a future reflection, we will talk about how we can honor God even at work, and how if we work in a Godly way, if the hours at work exceed the hours we are actively praying and worshipping in church, then we might still call God our highest priority when it comes to time. Obviously, our mortgage comes first when it comes to our financial priorities. However, how far down the list do we find our stewardship? And how far down the list is God when it comes to our time?
We have shifted topics and will be focusing on the word “serve.” We’ve discussed “Breathe” and “Purpose” and now we will focus on how to put these two into action under the heading of “Serve.” And our first stop is serving God, and reflecting on whether He is our #1, or if something else is and why.
Lord, thank You for the gift of another day to be alive in the world. This world is complicated. There are so many things that compete for both my time and my money. Help me to be vigilant and wise in how and where I spend both. I want to call You “Master”. Help what I want to become what I actually do. Help me to use both my time and my money in ways that honor You and serve others. Be with me in the struggle and give me focus and discipline each day as I struggle with sin and temptation. Amen.
Who and what is your #1?