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.
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?
This teaching which Jesus lived by illustrates how different Jesus was from all men. No one can match the impeccable timing of His perfect words and actions. When growing up I thought that His behavior was so extraordinary that you couldn’t really know why He did what He did. I understand now that He was so different because He understood the scriptures and applied them, not because of some secret knowledge or powers.
This is quite a radical teaching when you think about it. It is so different from how we come to live our lives. Not only do we worry about our basic needs but we also add things to our list of concerns that we think are necessary when they really aren’t. Our nature is to serve mammon but you can’t serve mammon and God.
It is very easy to make our own plans and confuse them with God’s will. People often ask me where I see myself in five years but I can’t see myself in five months, or even five days from now. But how can anyone see that? Anyone who tries to speak with certainty about the future is fooling himself. You can say all you want about your five-year goals but they’re utterly meaningless because you have no power or knowledge regarding the future.
When you spend month after month looking for a job and watching your bank account dry up all you can think about is how you will survive. The stress makes you despair of life. Your mind is consumed with thoughts of what you don’t have and can’t do. You realize that you have no control over anything but you also feel powerless to overcome your circumstances. It’s like you’re playing a rigged game. This kind of worry is, in one sense, what Jesus meant by serving mammon.
We do not live simply for bread alone but for God’s pleasure, as Jesus told the devil during His temptations. Jesus teaches us that God already has a plan and a purpose for us and He has the power to make it reality. His plans are better than ours and provide a fulfillment we will never find on our own. They concern more than just what careers we have or what accomplishments we achieve. The big picture goes beyond our parochial hopes and stretch beyond our short lifetimes.
We must look to the Father as the source of our life and the provider of all our needs. Jesus said to seek the kingdom and righteousness and leave the concerns over our provision to the Father. Jesus is telling us to be carefree, not careless. Food and raiment aren’t trivial but if they become the focus of our attention then it will distract us from serving God. It’s either God or mammon. Whom will you choose?
What is the point of your life? Are you living for the kingdom or are you just living?