In my Bible reading today I came into this verse – which is very well-known to all Christian: 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). It is followed by the next verse which starts with ‘therefore’: Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? (Matthew 6: 25)
I never realized before that these two verses actually come together. They’re quoted often in different occasion, but if I read it correctly, the word ‘therefore’ has been there to tie up the two verses. (Now I’m browsing for the commentary – a lot of sermons have used them together, so no, it’s not a rocket science, but yes, this is a new revelation for me). In my understanding – the worries of food, clothes (our human need – even when it seems very basic and vital) has been referred here as the Mamon (or Money) as stated in the previous verse.
I have known well that worrying about one’s life is not pleasant in God’s eyes. I also know that a lot of times, when we put our well-being as our first priorities and God at the second place means we have put ourselves of being god and God is not the master of our lives. I know these well, but I never realized that when the Bible says something about not serving two masters – God has used about worrying as the second one!
Though we’re not living in the rock age anymore, but whenever we hear: “You shall have no other gods before me” – we tend to think about ‘Other gods’ as those which made from wood or metal. And we happily say, “Of course not… I’m a Christian, I don’t bow to any human-made god like some other religion do.” Some of us who might be come from Buddhist family might say, “No, I no longer pray to my ancestors, so no, I don’t have other gods before Jesus.”
As we grow up and learn more about God and the bible – we realize that there are other gods which are not made from wood or steel. We learn other gods in idols – a rock star we love so much? Or maybe our one-and true-love we just can’t lose? Or maybe it’s our job, our money, our position, our health, our pride. Yes I’ve been learning about this all, but really, it never struck my mind, that when God talks about having two masters – he use our worries as the first example of the other master.
What’s wrong about worrying about food or clothes? Now a lot of us – most of us who have the luxury of having internet connection, able to read well in English (and lucky to be able to understand my writing which often comes in irregular order) – never really feel worry about food or clothes. We have more than enough to get our food easily – when we worry about it, it’s often because we feel worried of choosing the wrong diet or whether it’s not delicious enough, but not because we’re afraid we can’t afford it. How about clothes? Oh, well, sometimes I do worry about it. Somehow my 4 doors wardrobe collection seems never be enough and I am worried that people will think I keep wearing the same items. But no, I never worry about not having any single thing to cover myself.
But now these worries about food and clothes have grown so fast into something so big, so urgent, so beyond our basic need- that we’re sooooo worried, we drown ourselves in piles of book of “How to live a happy life’, ‘Being rich and happy’, ‘Make yourself rich in 100 days’, ‘If you think you can do it, you can!’, ‘Secret of Successful & Meaningful life’, or ’30 ways to be rich and famous’. (Please excuse me if you fail to search for those books in Amazon – those titles are only my made-ups, I can’t remember the exact titles of them). Hey, hey, what’s wrong about reading these books? What’s so sinful about the will of improving ourselves?
Well, I can say nothing about that. I’m currently reading ‘How to be the employee your company can’t live with’, ‘Happy at work: ten steps to ultimate job satisfaction’, and ‘Jane Austen’s guide to romance’. Ok, that’s a big HAHA for the last title – but it seems I’m a big failure in terms of relationship and this book is quite insightful (though you know, it’s not always applicable to all cases).
I wouldn’t say that it’s sinful to read such books, but my heart grows sad, really, when I see people (and some of them are my most beloved ones) have been depended so much with these books. When we have put them as the source of our strength – instead of reading the Bible, we use all of our times to read them and draw our energy to do the best by training our mind according to these motivational books – what is actually our goal by doing this? When we are very willing to improve our lives, our knowledge, our well being, our health, our all – as a Christian, are we really doing this God as our first and only one Master, or actually we’re trying to satisfy our own need – and put our live as our god?
God has declared that we must not have two masters – He’s saying that there should be only one Kingship in our lives, where God is the King alone – not our worries, not our needs, not our concern of lives. And He has provided the promise that He does know that we have our needs, and there’s no way He forgets about them (and remember, He IS God): If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? (verse 30).
And while our worries seem not to stop and we’re wondering what to do to make sure we will be OK and have enough, I believe God has closed his sermon with a very strong conclusion – the one my late Grandfather trusted so much, and I know there’s no time in his life God has failed to in keeping him satisfied: But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well (Matthew 6:33).
May we understand which kingdom we are in, which King we are serving. And may our worries –and the desire to satisfy ourselves don’t consume us and make us forget, we have one King above – the one and the only Master to serve.