You Cannot Serve Two Masters
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both And be one traveler, long I stood And looked down one as far as I could To where it bent in the undergrowth; Then took the other, as just as fair, And having perhaps the better claim, Because it was grassy and wanted wear; Though as for that the passing there Had worn them really about the same, And both that morning equally lay In leaves no step had trodden black. Oh, I kept the first for another day! Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back. I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.
For some years now this poem by Robert Frost has been one of my favorites. It tells us of a moment in life where we must make a choice and choose the path that we will follow for the rest of our lives. For some this could be a career choice, for others a romantic choice and even for some it could be a choice of what to have for dinner. The point is that there are times in our lives where we must make a choice.
Where we must choose to go the way everyone else is going, or to go the way less travelled. This choice is discussed by Jesus in Matthew Chapter 6:24-34 where he says “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.” You cannot serve two masters, you cannot go down the road that is well travelled and the road that is less travelled at the same time. You can only serve one. All too often we try to do both, but it doesn’t work. Basically, because we can’t be in two places at the same time. We can’t serve both our God and our mammon or our wealth. We actually must make a choice. We must CHOOSE who we wish to serve. We have that choice. God has given us the ability to choose him or to choose our wealth. Now our wealth doesn’t refer to just money, although money tends to be the biggest player in this. It’s anything that we prize and make the most important in our lives. It could be drinking, sex, gambling, eating, clubs that we support. Anything that comes into your life that you choose to spend all or most of your energy on. Even your work, your church, your family; all these can be your mammon.
We have the right and the ability to choose, but the consequences of our choices have already been predetermined by God. The person who had Christ as Lord has the rewards of an abundant life as is seen in John 10:10 "The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." Life is better with Christ. But not only is it more full, more complete—it is at peace. And though you have tribulation the peace that God gives is greater. John 14:27 "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." Now if you notice in these two verses, they both play off of each other. They list the good things about following Jesus and they list what you get when Jesus isn’t in your life. The first verse talks about a thief and the bad things that he does—he steals, kills and destroys. Whereas, Jesus is just the opposite—He gives life and instead of destroying he gives life that grows that doesn’t stagnate, but thrives. In the second verse notice that the worldly peace really isn’t peace at all! You get fear and worry and doubt from it, but the peace that Jesus gives provides us just the opposite.
It provides hope and courage. And that courage boils down to faith. So if your god is mammon then what do you have to look forward to? Destruction? Being Robbed? Fear? Worry? Doubt? Or should we choose Christ and have peace and a more vibrant life? What a God we CAN serve. If we so choose.
Back in Exodus and Numbers we read about the Jews, the children of Israel being led to freedom by the man God himself called to lead them. Now the Jews had been praying and crying out to God to deliver them from their bondage. God heard the cry of his people and sent Moses to deliver them from slavery to the promised land. On the way the Jews felt that they were in an impossible situation and wanted to return to Egypt. They wanted to return to the shackles of bondage. Slaves without hope. Instead of trusting God to deliver them to the promised rest. The Jews came to that fork in the road and they took the road less traveled. But as they went down that road, they doubted the choice that they made. They wanted to be slaves of Egypt instead of servants of God. Slaves and servants are two different things. A slave has no rights.
They are property. They can’t make any decisions for themselves, and they are subject to the whims of an ungrateful master. Whereas, a servant chooses whom he will serve. It is the desire of the servant to please his master and his master in return loves him for it. But the servant is free. He is elevated above the value of a piece of property. He is worth something to the master. You see, the Jews here learned that they could not serve two masters. They learned that they could not be a slave and a servant. Egypt would have been cruel to them. They would have been beaten and tormented for leaving. Their lives would have been miserable. They would have no hope no peace, only fear and punishment. But they chose the better course. They continued on the road less travelled that they might serve a loving God who would reward them for their faithfulness. We too are come to that same road. That choice that we must make. Do we choose to continue in a life of sin, glorifying our mammon? It is written that “All have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God.” All of us have sinned.
When we sin we are in bondage. We are slaves to the evils of this world. Peter says in 2 Peter 2:19 "…of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage." Much better is it to be free and a servant of God than to be a slave of our mammon. A slave to sin.
In Matthew 19:16-22 we read “"And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions."
This man was a slave to his mammon. And he chose to remain a slave rather than lay down his sinful nature and be a servant of Jesus Christ. Did you notice that the only commandments that Jesus talked about here was the easy ones? Don’t steal, kill, commit adultery, don’t lie, honor your parents and love your neighbor. Jesus knew where this man’s loyalties lay. The other commandments are just as important, and Jesus chose to focus on the very thing that was holding up this man’s decision. His possessions, his mammon. You see, Jesus isn’t saying that wealth is bad, and in order to follow him you must give up everything. No. Jesus knew that this man was a slave to his possessions.. He knew that the man was not a good steward of what he had, but rather what he had was a steward of him. Jesus doesn’t want our stuff, he wants us to put him before our stuff. You can still be wealthy and be a servant of Christ. You just can’t be a slave to your wealth and a servant of Christ. If this man had chosen to put Christ first and his wealth second, he would have had that life more abundant, he would have had the peace of Christ, but instead all he got was sorrow. Woe is me. My life is so bad, I have all this wealth and can’t get to heaven.
You can’t take it with you. You need to leave behind those things which come between you and God. You need to leave behind that baggage. There are no bags allowed on this direct flight to heaven. Whatever you place first in your life will be what you focus on. And when we’re not focused on God we live an anxious life, full of doubt and worry and mistrust. Full of fear and despair. Rather hope in the Lord and he will renew your strength, you will not stumble, you will not fall but rather you will mount up on wings as eagles. You see without this hope in the Lord you stumble and fall. Why? Because you are shackled to your sins and that is a long cumbersome chain to try and walk around with. It trips you up and makes it so you cannot walk. Let go of your sins and let God be your master. Let go and let God.
Now listen to the rest of these verses from Matthew 6 “Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." So what’s Jesus saying here? Trust him. Plain and simple. Trust him. You see the people that don’t trust him have all that anxiety. All that worry and doubt. Jesus is saying don’t get all worked up about the things that He takes care of. He’s got it under control. He knows what he is doing. After all he did make you. He knows your needs even better than you do.
Trust him to provide daily what you need. Trust him and you will have nothing to fear, nothing to worry about. Leave the thoughts of tomorrow for tomorrow. Stay focused on today.
If you chose him as master there should be nothing to worry about because then you’re more than just a servant your family. John 1:12 "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:" let me repeat that……………………………. Would you believe in his name? Would you put your own mammon aside and take that road less travelled? Will you be like the Jews and come out of your bondage into a land flowing with milk and honey? Or will you be like the wealthy young man who had the opportunity to become a child of God, but instead turned away from Christ and remained a child of mammon. You see the choice is yours. You are standing in a yellow wood. Will you take the road not taken?