Matthew 6:24, John 14:2, Philippians 3:8
On our United States currency we have printed the words “In God We Trust” the first time that showed up was in 1864 during Lincoln’s administration, on a little 2 cent coin. In 1955, at a time when we were pushing against communism, our Congress decided to put that on all of the bills that we use. And I’ve always thought it’s a little bit ironic that our money ends up having things on it that say things about trusting in God, because I know how I am. I’m often tempted to trust in money instead.
It’s the nature of a person’s heart to sort of gravitate towards something and make something or someone it’s treasure. Our scripture reading for today is taken from Matthew chapter 6 verse 24, in Jesus’ sermon on the mount.
No one can serve two masters 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 both God and money. (Matthew 6:24)
And Jesus here in our text is speaking not to unbelievers he’s speaking to his followers, to believers. And he’s warning us against materialism. This constant poll that we have on our hearts toward the many things that we can have and get here in this life. That’s a problem that we have all the way from childhood to the grave. I remember years ago talking to an elementary school teacher who said one of the easiest things to teach children is money, like how much money is worth, and the reason is because they realize what they can do with it and how it can be to their advantage.
We are in a very dangerous place in our culture. We live with wealth and luxury all around us. And that’s one of the dangers for us. But the culture we live in also sort of assumes, and even encourages, that we should want more and that it’s our right to go out and to try to seek more and more. And so Jesus gives us this reminder. He says you cannot serve both God and mammon, which means money, and anything else from this world.
Now the Christian senses this and knows this about himself the sinful tug inside of us can be toward the many things we can have in this life, rather than toward heaven and toward our Savior and His Word who has come to give us that beautiful gift of heaven.
And so the devil likes to tempt me, I know, with what I would call a “dual allegiance.” That my heart could be divided, partly for God, and partly for the things of this world in this life. Listen to what Martin Luther said once
God is a jealous God and he cannot allow us to serve him and his enemy the devil at the same time.
There is a church father way back in the history of the church that said it like this: of what help are the emperors riches when he is finally an hour from his death? That’s a good reminder for us. All the stuff we can get in this life that may seem so fantastic. What good is that really going to do us an hour from our death?
When we think about what our Savior has come to do for us. Think of it, God’s own Son came into this world, shed his blood, felt the pains of hell, not to give you the things of this life that are going to fade away, but he did it to give you heaven that was worth it. And he says to you and me
In my Father’s house there are many mansions. I go to prepare a place for you. (John 14:2)
So the key to managing all the things we can have in this life is to have them without possessing them. In other words to have them and use them and manage them, but don’t let them take over our hearts to control our hearts and our lives. That’s why St. Paul said
I consider all things as excrement that I may gain Christ and be found in him. (Philippians 3:8)
Let’s have a prayer as we close.
Lord God Heavenly Father, help me to seek your kingdom and your righteousness above everything else in my life. Give me a childlike faith in you. You know my heart and what is best for me in this life. Grant me the earthly blessings that are in keeping with the path I must take through this life to my eternal home which you have given me and the work of your Son, my Savior. Amen.