You CANNOT serve God and Mammon!
compiled by Michael Jeshurun
“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye CANNOT serve God and mammon!” [Matt 6:24]
“We must take heed of hypocrisy and worldly-mindedness in choosing the master we serve, [Mat 6:24]. No man can serve two masters. Serving two masters is contrary to the single eye; for the eye will be to the master’s hand, [Psa 123:1, Psa 123:2]. Our Lord Jesus here exposes the cheat which those put upon their own souls, who think to divide between God and the world, to have a treasure on earth, and a treasure in heaven too, to please God and please men too. Why not? says the hypocrite; it is good to have two strings to one’s bow. They hope to make their religion serve their secular interest, and so turn to account both ways. The pretending mother was for dividing the child (1Kings 3:16-28); the Samaritans will compound between God and idols. No, says Christ, this will not do; it is but a supposition that gain is godliness, [1Ti 6:5].
A general maxim is laid down; it is likely it was a proverb among the Jews, No man can serve two masters, much less two gods; for their commands will some time or other cross or contradict one another, and their occasions interfere. While two masters go together, a servant may follow them both; but when they part, you will see to which he belongs; he cannot love, and observe, and cleave to both as he should. If to the one, not to the other; either this or that must be comparatively hated and despised. This truth is plain enough in common cases.
The application of it to the business in hand. Ye cannot serve God and Mammon. Mammon is a Syriac word, that signifies gain; so that whatever in this world is, or is accounted by us to be, gain (Phi 3:7), is mammon. Whatever is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, is mammon. To some their belly is their mammon, and they serve that (Phi 3:19); to others their ease, their sleep, their sports and pastimes, are their mammon (Pro 6:9); to others worldly riches (Jam 4:13); to others honours and preferments; the praise and applause of men was the Pharisees’ mammon; in a word, self, the unity in which the world’s trinity centers, sensual, secular self, is the mammon which cannot be served in conjunction with God; for if it be served, it is in competition with him and in contradiction to him.
He does not say, We must not or we should not, but we CANNOT serve God and Mammon; we CANNOT love both (1Jn 2:15; Jam 4:4); or hold to both, or hold by both in observance, obedience, attendance, trust, and dependence, for they are contrary the one to the other. God says, “My son, give me thy heart.” Mammon says, “No, give it me.” God says, “Be content with such things as ye have.” Mammon says, “Grasp at all that ever thou canst. “Money, money; by fair means or by foul, money.” God says, “Defraud not, never lie, be honest and just in all thy dealings.” Mammon says “Cheat thine own Father, if thou canst gain by it.” God says, “Be charitable.” Mammon says, “Hold thy own: this giving undoes us all.” God says, “Be careful for nothing.” Mammon says, “Be careful for everything.” God says, “Keep holy thy sabbath-day.” Mammon says, “Make use of that day as well as any other for the world.”
Thus inconsistent are the commands of God and Mammon, so that we cannot serve both. Let us not then halt between God and Baal, but choose ye this day WHOM ye will serve, and abide by your choice.” – Matthew Henry
“The Devil deceives many into being satisfied with a superficial change and half reformation. They make a religious profession, persuading themselves they are trusting in the finished work of Christ, and yet continue in love with the world and to indulge the flesh! It is a fatal mistake to think we can divide our hearts between God and the world, to serve Him and our lusts. “You cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:13).
No one has any difficulty in understanding what it signifies to “serve mammon.” It is to make material riches my dominant quest, to make the acquirement of them my supreme aim, to devote all my powers to the securing of them.
Equally plain is what is included in the “serving of God.” It means putting Him first in our hearts and lives. It means for all our faculties and energies to be devoted to an ascertaining and then a doing of whatever He requires. It means the rendering to Him of an unqualified and loving obedience. And that necessarily involves the renunciation of all objects which are opposed to Him and abstaining from whatever He has forbidden. To allow any lust to reign in us—is to depose God from the heart.”