Idolatry and Greed (Part 3)

One of the hard things in sermon preparation is doing “word studies” apart from using commentaries to understand the Bible’s original intent as often translations are not accurate with the use of certain words. You might have noticed that I said nothing about the end of Matthew 6:24 yesterday.

Mt 6:24 “You cannot serve both God and Money.”

The word “money” is not translated correctly. Older versions use the word “mammoth” meaning “money and possessions”. Jesus says we cannot serve both God and Mammoth. You can only serve one. It’s either God or an idol! So you might say to me … but how do I make it through life? I need money to live. I need possessions. Yes that’s true, but you are first called to serve God. In response to Him being questioned about the most important Commandment we read:

Mk 12:29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’”

How do I serve God? With all the heart (all the emotions), soul (spiritual dimension), mind (all the intellect) and strength (all the physical aspect). When you worship and serve God with all these four aspects you will not fall prey to idolatry. Let us return to the fact that we need money and possessions which means we do need employment. Many go through hard times at present. The non-employment rate is at an all-time high, COVID-19 has seriously contributed to this as well as an awful economy. Many don’t have reserves to fall back onto and at times only one or perhaps two are able to bring money into a household where prices are ever increasing. Many try to live off a government pension or grant which barely covers needs if at all. How do I make it? How am I expected to survive? Not by making money and possessions a god but by loving, servicing and worshipping Jesus as Mark 12:30 requires.

1) Taking it to the next level.

Mt 6:25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?”

You relationship with Jesus insists that you don’t worry about food and clothing (and by implication about accommodation). These are needed things to protect and care for your life (physical being) … do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear … rather the focus ought to be on the spiritual being implied in Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? This is where You cannot serve both God and Money … comes in. Your focus must be on the spiritual side first … on God. Verse 25 says “don’t worry” … meaning that worry is a sin. Trusting God is important! That’s the next level. Irrespective what your earthly condition is, trust God. Depend upon God … and you are only able to do this once you have that personal relationship with him as required in Mark 12:30.

2) Two vivid illustrations.

Mt 6:26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire … “

Some who believe in a god feel he has deserted, uninterested or does not care, yet these verses declare that God is present, in control and very interested in His Creation. Who and what is your God like? The God of the Bible is Supreme, Almighty and in control but He wants you to believe it!

3) The magnitude of faith.

If you agreed to God being Supreme and Almighty believing that with all your heart, why do you worry about money and possessions?

Mt 6:30 ” … will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.”

God says that if you respond like the “pagans” (unbelievers) making idols out of money, possession and wealth in general, you are not trusting Him … you are not believing in Him to provide your every need (not greed or unreasonable want). The word “run” in verse 32 reminds me of the little child who throws tantrums every time he or she can’t get what they want. When believers in Jesus do this spiritually, they are demonstrating they don’t trust and depend upon God to meet their requirements for life.

4) The Kingdom and Righteousness. The way into God’s Kingdom is through having His righteousness!

Mt 6:33 “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness … “

This is why Jesus says “seek first His”. Seeking salvation is the most important matter in life. Those playing games with God don’t realize how serious God is saying “seek first His” Once saved a person ought to grasp dependence upon God which will prevent running after the things God is able to provide. When one becomes a child of God, you are credited with Jesus’ righteousness. So entering the Kingdom is through salvation.

5) Collecting God’s promise. Once doing things God’s way you may trust God to meet your needs. He says:

Mt 6:33 ” … and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Since we have become Christian we have been through some rather turbulent times financially. Yet … that old song gets it so right … “take it to the Lord in prayer”. It is amazing how God in His goodness provides for the needs (not greeds) of His people. He wants you to depend upon Him because He is able to meet all needs.

Mt 6:34 “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Dear God, You love Your people so much that as we depend upon You, You faithfully meet our needs. Help us to trust and depend upon You through Jesus. Amen.