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. (Matthew 6:24)
In America, at least for the moment, we consider ourselves to be a free people. After all, we have the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights – the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution. While this may be true in a temporal, earthly sense, it is not so in an eternal, ethereal sense. We are all slaves to something.
Jesus simplifies the slave masters down to two in our verse above. “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” Mammon was the Aramaic term meaning “riches” or “money,” but the term can be broadened to all the trappings of this world. Anything that demands your time and your devotion is your master. “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” (Romans 6:16, emphasis added). Many, including Christians, deny that they are slaves to “sin” (i.e., Mammon), but they are self-deceived. This is very easy to prove. It always comes to a choice between the things of God or the things of this world. When confronted with the choice between going to church or Bible study (group or personal) and your favorite diversion, e.g., watching your favorite sports game, watching a favorite TV show or going to a movie, going fishing, boating, or camping, taking the kids to their soccer game, or dance recital, which one comes out on top? None of the things that I listed are necessarily sinful, except when given a superior position to the things of God. Of course, I could have listed really “sinful” choices, but Paul’s exhortation was given to Christians not to “heathen.” If Christians can be enslaved by the things of this world, how much more the non-Christian who is without the power of the Holy Spirit!
The Christian should be guided by a different standard. Paul says that the Christian, “Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants [slaves] of righteousness” (Romans 6:18). Being a “slave of righteousness” (i.e., slaves of God) for the Christian should not be a difficult task. If it is, that one should reevaluate his standing before God. Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:29-30). Strange that Jesus should use a yoke as an illustration. Certainly the reader has seen pictures of yoke of oxen pulling a plow or a cart. The yoke that binds the two oxen together for the purpose of pulling a heavy load does not look “easy.” In training oxen to pull a load, a young, inexperienced ox is yoked to an older, experienced ox. The young ox will fight the load, but gradually learns from the older. In the interim, the older ox bears most of the load while the younger is learning. Jesus assures us that “[His] yoke is easy and [His] burden is light” because He “was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). He bears the greater load, and as we learn from Him, our load becomes easier to bear; but He must be the Master.
Everyone is a slave to something. You have the choice of who will be master of your life.