“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” (Matt 6:24)
I am going to put this passage into full perspective and find out what Jesus meant by saying this – since this is hugely overlooked and mis-interpreted in Christendom. It’s a value we need to start setting in it’s correct place. This whole chapter from vs. 1 – 34 is tied together by this central theme – money.
Firstly, you have the 3 passages about hypocritical faith and ‘reward’. In ‘giving to the poor’ (vs.2), when you ‘pray’ (vs.5), and when you ‘fast’ (vs.16) – do not do these things to be noticed by ‘people’ – as Jesus states ‘they have their reward in full’. What reward? Public attention? Looking holy? Gloating? I actually think that is a piece of it – but it is no small stretch to also see that these same people that ‘looked righteous’ also did it for public show so people would give to their ‘faith structure’ (knowing they were ‘holy men of God’). It seems their reward is the actual money they recieve from the un-knowing people that think these people are ‘doing good’ – when all in all – they are not quite what they claim.
Vs.1 sets the actual precedent for the chapter “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.”
Basically, is it that – God does not care about the amount of wealth we can build? Have at er’ – so to speak. No. The people were using their religious system to guarantee they would have money – and likely accumulate quite a bit of it – so as to secure themselves a position in society. They get noticed for doing good – people admire that – they give to that system cause it looks ‘godly’ (trend keeps going until someone points it out). Jesus is pointing it out! And we wonder why he is hated in his day? Never get between someone and their ‘cash cow’.
This is further pointed out in vs.19-24 (so as to hammer the point home). Vs. 19-21 talks about storing treasure in heaven, not on earth (accumulation of wealth) – why? Cause your ‘heart’ will be tainted by the very thing you admire – at some point God chases ‘wealth’ or becomes void due to it. Vs. 22-23 talks about the eye and how it see’s light (perspective). If the light becomes ‘darkness’ or ‘shaded’ then rhetorically – ‘how great is this darkness!’. Basically, money can shade people’s very views about religion and society – and make them change what is actually being said for personal gain. Vs. 24 wraps it up – you can’t serve both money and God (since perspective is skewed in the process). Jesus seems to be stating very clearly – money can jade even the finest religous person – so much so – they betray the very thing they hold dear – God.
Verses 25-34 are passages about ‘don’t worry’ concerning food, clothing, drink, life span, and time – these things God does ‘care about’ concerning you. This is in complete contrast to the idea of wealth building for personal use/gain. I know it’s not the norm in a capital-ist society to think like this but if you read closely it all makes a lot of sense.
See what if the system worked as it should? What if the teachings did not have to badger people about their personal ‘love of wealth?’. It’s not that far off that these same people (religious folk) would develop a system/society where that wealth is shared with one another (including the poorest of them) – in area’s like clothing, shelter, food/drink, and security. We would actually see a faith system something like this in Acts? If you check that Acts passage out you find they are people of faith – devoted to the ‘teachings, prayer, and passover/communion’. They ‘had all things in common’ (shared) – including shelter, possessions (clothing very possibly), food/drink, and friendship. We just might find our anxieties wash away too ‘Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe’ (the people in this passage hardly look ‘worried’). Could this be what Jesus was pointing to in this passage in Matt 6?
So some logic…1 + 1 = 2 – normal math we all know is true. Now if I keep finding passages like this in the gospels and letters – then at some point if the addition keeps adding up (and not subtracting) – then we must have a consistent theme: Matt 19:21, Luke 12:33, Luke 16:1-13, Acts 4:34, Rev 3:16-18, Matt 5:3, I Cor 4:8-14, Mark 4:19, I Tim 6:17-18, Luke 6:24, I Tim 6:9-10, James 5:1-6, James 2:1-9, Luke 12:18-20, Matt 21:12, Luke 16:14, I Tim 3:3, 2 Tim 3:2, Heb 13:5. 3 gospels, a history, 4 letters of Paul (if Hebrews is), and James and John. All of these passages tie into this theme in one way or another concerning wealth and religious hypocrisy (and it’s dangers).
My Verdict for the teachings: Capital-ism and faith cannot be partners together to make one believe they are adopting the values of the teachings of Christ – this is contradiction.