When Jesus speaks about the problem of serving two masters in Matthew 6:24, His teaching goes to the heart of our relationship with God:
“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
Money is only one other master that people can serve. The issue becomes one of serving any other god but Yahweh. When we look at the ancient Israelites, what was it that always got them into trouble? What was the very first of the Ten Commandments that God gave them in Exodus 20:3?
“You shall have no other gods before Me.”
Go to the Old Testament and read what God continually warned His people. Pick a prophet and one of the warnings he gave. Here’s Jeremiah 25:6 speaking the Word of God to the people of Israel in their captivity and exile in Babylon:
“Do not go after other gods to serve and worship them, or provoke me to anger with the work of your hands. Then I will do you no harm.”
Following after other gods was the continual problem Israel faced. Time and again in their history, they came back to Yahweh but fell into apostasy by serving other gods that were such a temptation to them. That resulted in God’s anger and judgment. When they turned from Him, He brought them harm. In Deuteronomy 28, God explicitly lays out the blessings He will bestow upon His people for being faithful to Him, but He also describes in great detail the curses they will bring upon themselves for turning to and worshiping other gods in disobedience to Him.
This whole idea about truly and faithfully following Yahweh or turning from Him is why King David was known as “a man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22). We know the sins he committed; he was human – he made bad choices. But the one thing David never did was to waver in his love and dedication to Yahweh. He never followed any other god. There is a term for this: BELIEVING LOYALTY. David’s believing loyalty was to Yahweh and Him alone.
There are many gods in this world. They often take different shapes or forms in today’s world from what they did in David’s day, but in the spiritual realm they are all the same. The gods over the nations in the Old Testament were fallen spiritual entities. They remain to this day. Their purpose is the same now as it was then: they hate God – their creator – and they desire to thwart His plans and purposes for mankind.
The love of money – money as a master – is a god that tears us away from faithfulness and trust in God alone. When Jesus said we cannot serve two masters, He meant that we cannot trust anyone or anything except God alone. Our believing loyalty must be absolute to the God of the Bible.
When we trust God in this way, then it becomes possible for us to do what Jesus commanded in Matthew 6:33:
“Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.”
When we do, “all these things,” i.e. food, clothing, and peace from the anxiety of tomorrow, will be added to our lives.