"No man can be owned by two masters:
for either he will hate the one, and love the other;
or he will hold to the one, and despise the other.
You cannot serve God and material possessions."
(Matt. 6:24, MLT (Melanie's Literal Translation :-P )
Just one verse... and yet so much meaning packed into it. In fact, this verse, in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount, is really the verse that determines whether we will obey all that is spoken in the verses surrounding it. This verse speaks of a CRISIS choice... our turning point comes when we make the decision (which is inevitable) to be mastered by God or by earthly things. It is a CONSCIOUS choice, not theoretical but practical. It is also a CONTINUAL choice, not once-for-all, but day-by-day and moment-by-moment.
The word "serve" in the King James translation literally means "slave for". A slave is someone who is owned by someone else; therefore, it could also be worded "belong to" or "be mastered by". "Master" speaks of someone or something having total possession of a person. Jesus challenges us to consider, who am I mastered by? God or material things? What drives what I do? What do I hope in? Where do I look to for satisfaction? Where does my mind go when I am lying in bed at night? What sets the agenda for my life?
Mammon (a Semetic word for money or possessions, according to the footnote in my Bible) can very easily become an idol to us. And mammon can be anything... for some it might be something as "innocent" as a cell phone, a blackberry, or a laptop. For some it may be work, music, or hobbies. For me it could easily be sewing, costume dramas, and classic literature. All sorts of things can come to master us, instead of us mastering it.
But God calls us to come unto Him; He calls us to belong to Him. He wants to be our Lord and our Master. As people made in His image, and children born into His kingdom, our hearts should be set in such a way that God our Saviour directs and controls all the we do. He should drive all that we do. He is the One we should hope in. He should be the One who brings us satisfaction. It is to Him that our hearts and minds should continually turn. He should set the agenda for our lives.
These thoughts, presented by my pastor in yesterday morning's message, really spoke to my heart and convicted me. They came very timely, also, as a dear friend of mine had encouraged me this last week to pray for the youth of our church to set their hearts on God, and have decided to start praying together on Sundays for that purpose. It was exciting that God should have prompted Pastor to preach this sermon just as we were seeing the need to pray for that very thing in our own lives and those of our friends. God's timing is perfect.
Below is the outline from Pastor's sermon. I should also add that most of the above lesson is drawn directly from notes that I took from his message; they are not original from me.
"A Call to Exclusive Devotion"
I. Who is my Master?
A. The one I love
B. The one I long for
C. The one I lean on
II. What is "mammon"?
A. Material possessions
B. Tangible pursuits
III. What is God's mandate?
A. Full devotion to Him
B. Full determination for Him
C. Full direction from Him