A well-known bumper sticker expresses the idolatry of the modern world, “He who dies with the most toys wins.” According to the philosophy behind this maxim, this life and the life hereafter have no real meaning, so make it your ambition to work hard, play hard and find your worth in the materialism and pleasures in this world.
Israel went into captivity in Babylon because of their idolatry. While they never again worshipped idols as a nation once they returned from captivity, other forms of idolatry plagued them, such as serving the god of materialism, Mammon.
We, in the modern world may never consider bowing down to a pagan idol, but we must learn from Israel’s temptation to make materialism and its pleasure a very real god. Strecker, in his commentary on the Sermon on the Mount believes that Jesus’ Mammon teaching “calls into question an economic order that claims for itself an absolute position, and thus becomes the representation of human-enslaving mammon.”
We see today even in our country that materialism is like a rampant cancer that is now a worldwide temptation, which consequently produces untold worry in people as to how they will be able to maintain the kind of lifestyle they require.
In Matthew 6:24 Jesus is saving His people from spiritual schizophrenia. He warns that we cannot work for God and then moonlighting for Mammon. The emphasis here is on the little word ‘serve.’ It is no sin to have money and property, wife and children, house and home. But we must not let it be our master. We must make it serve us, and we must be its master. The old proverbs is true: “Money is a good servant, but a bad master.”
Here Jesus is making the point that in the fullest sense of the term to be a slave meant to belong wholly to a master. Jesus speaks of no half measures: the slave will be linked to the two by hatred or love, by devotion or contempt, and in each case the one attitude rules out the other.
How shall we heed our Lord’s warning?
We should follow our Lord’s example when He was tempted by the devil: “Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve” (Matt. 4:10)
We must determine that we will not allow our lives to be dominated by the prerequisites of worldly success, awards, appointments, salaries, promotions, or Mammon.
We must turn our backs on the goals and goods of this world, to be the real atheists of our culture by denying the gods to whom many in our society give their unquestioning allegiance. Only Jesus is Lord of our lives!
Rev. Mark Tay