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…
After discoursing of our treasure (vers. 19-21), and of the motive that should influence conduct (vers. 22, 23), our Lord here indicates two competitive services, viz. the service of God and the service of mammon. We have submitted to our acceptance -
I. THE SERVICE OF GOD.
1. This implies trust in him.
(1) Trust in God, viz. for deliverance from the tyranny of sin. Ilia help is pledged in his holiness.
(2) Trust in God for his help against temptation. He urges us to resist the evil one. He expressly promises his aid.
(3) Trust in God for strength to obey him. We need this, for our nature is prone to evil His grace is sufficient.
2. It implies love to God.
(1) His Law surveys the motives of the heart. Love is the fulfilling of the Law.
(2) The spiritual Master cannot be served without love. Love is the master of the heart.
(3) God is infinitely lovable. Truth itself. Essential goodness. The eye will be to the Master's hand (Psalm 123:1, 2). The servants of God will not serve mammon.
3. It implies imitation of God.
(1) Imitation is the sincerest love.
(2) There are things of God which are inimitable, e.g. omnipotence, infallibility. To attempt to imitate these would be outrageous presumption.
(3) The imitable things of God are those qualities in which we were created after his image. Knowledge, righteousness, holiness.
(4) To aid us in this we have the Spirit of Christ, who is emphatically the Image of God.
II. THE SERVICE OF MAMMON.
1. This is the service of sin.
(1) Mammon is a name for worldly riches (cf. vers. 19-21; James 4:13).
(2) It is any illicit love - anything of which money may be taken as the exponent. It may be appetite (Philippians 3:19). It may be ease. It may be honour: Pharisees.
2. It is the service of Satan.
(1) Mammon is supposed to have been a Chaldean idol corresponding to the Greek Pluto. It is here put for Satan as opposed to God. Sinners do not sufficiently consider the kind of master they serve.
(2) Mammon has still his images. Sometimes they take the form of coin, of bonds, of scrip, of estates. Sometimes of furniture, equipages, dress, food.
III. THESE SERVICES ARE IRRECONCILABLE,
1. God is an imperial Lord.
(1) He claims the complete homage of all our powers by his absolute right of creation. This high claim is consistent with all legitimate secondary claims.
(2) By his right of providence. By his providence our existence is every moment preserved.
(3) By his right of redemption. Service here is claimed as gratitude for love.
(4) Servitude to God is blessed slavery. It is such a slavery as brings perfect liberty. It is slavery to truth and love.
2. Satan is an imperious tyrant.
(1) Half-service will not satisfy him. Lucifer would be like the Most High.
(2) Where he cannot drive, he will lure his victims to destruction. His resources of ingenuity are vast. His persistency is unflagging.
(3) Slavery to Satan is drudgery to cruelty. Human nature is too willing to be ruined.
3. The masters are contrary.
(1) "God and mammon;" "light" and "darkness."
(2) The services are as the masters. The orders of the masters are contrary. A man of the world cannot be a religious character. The servants of mammon hate God in their hearts.
(3) The attempt to reconcile these services is folly. Those persons try to serve two masters who strain consistency to steer close to the vortex of worldliness. Those who try to make religion serve their secular interests. "The pretending mother was for dividing the child." The Samaritans found the attempt sorrowful to fear the Lord and serve other gods (2 Kings 17:33). "It is but supposition that gain is godliness." - J.A.M.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.