No One Can Serve Two Masters

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“No one 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” (Matthew 6:24). These lines are as profound a challenge to us today as they were to the disciples when Jesus said these things to them. They lead us to a personal meditation on where it is that we seek our “treasure.” What is it that our hearts cling to? Jesus is not letting us off the hook here, for he is calling us to nothing less than total dependence on God. He, alone, is our happiness, our treasure. This is a great meditation for us during these 40 days of Lent, before the glory of Easter.

Really, our society is not that much different than the society that Jesus was born into. Human nature is, was, and always will be the same. The desire for happiness is universal. How we interpret happiness is where we can run into problems. And our interpretations are no different than those of the people of Jesus’ time. As God’s children, made in his image and likeness, we are infinite beings. But because of Original Sin, our earthly, mortal lives, are subject to death. Because of our awareness of death, we can often get caught up in the temptations for immediate gratification. We often define and pursue happiness by way of finite things, thinking that possessions, or fame, or power will bring us happiness. While these things might bring us some sort of happiness in the moment, or for some period of time, they are never fulfilling. In fact, more often than not, they do not satisfy our natural desire for true and lasting happiness. We are never able to have enough it seems. We are driven to have more, and more. It can become an endless pursuit that is ultimately, fruitless in obtaining the true happiness our hearts desire.

Jesus follows today’s verse by developing his point further. He tells us not to worry about things like whether we enjoy the finest of foods and drink, or not, or about things like our clothes. He suggests that we look at the birds of the sky that neither sow nor reap, yet God feeds them. And then challenges us with a profound faith question: “Are you not more important than they?” (verse 26). And then the great philosophical question: Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your lifespan?” (verse 27) He tells us to look at the wild flowers of the field, that neither work nor spin but are more beautiful than all of Solomon’s fineries. And, again, he challenges us with the faith question: Will God not provide us with more than he does for the birds of the air and the flowers of the field? And he really puts the pressure on when he says to his listeners and to us, “O you of little faith.” Do we not believe him? THAT is the question.

The ultimate end of this lesson, of course, is to get us to reflect on the divine wisdom of putting our faith in God alone, not in temporal, finite, fleeting things like money, or status, or power. It is our humble and faithful dependence on God that makes us rich in happiness, no matter our circumstances, not just now, but for eternity. Though our bodies are subject to death, and worry is one of our crosses, we must hold fast to the greater truth; the truth that we are infinite beings made in the image and likeness of God out of his infinite love. We are challenged here to ask ourselves, “Are our hearts focused more on the finite, or on the infinite things?” For it is true that where our hearts are, there is our treasure. Though it is a hard concept for our earthly logic to grasp, we as Christians, are challenged here by Jesus Christ, to let go of our finite worries over material things. Where we seek our treasure determines everything. Let our hearts rest in God alone. If we seek our treasure first in God, then all things good, true, beautiful, and lasting will come to us. That is his promise. That is our faith. Do we believe?

O, God, our hearts are restless until they rest in you. Give us the wisdom and the faith to first seek our treasure in you. For you alone are the true source of the happiness our hearts desire. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen!

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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site Blog.