“No one has the power to serve two Lords; for either the one he will hate and the other he will love or he will hold firmly to one and hold the other in contempt. You are not able to serve God and Mammon.”
Recently I read an article that cited a statement that Thomas Sowell made in The Washington Times. Sowell said that “journalists cannot serve two masters: the complete truth and a political agenda.” The criticism that he was making is that journalism seems to have departed from the task reporting the news in as unbiased way as possible and moved to telling you what you should think about events considered newsworthy. Thus, we have the development of both liberal and conservative news reporting. Sowell’s point is that truth is sacrificed on the altar of a political agenda.
As I was reflecting on this, I realized how often we fall into this trap. As teachers in school, we have been called to educate young minds a particular subject but at the same time, standardized testing, athletics, extra-curricular events, etc… compete with our class time. We need to balance what we do with the whole of the program, but at the same time, teaching is compromised in the process. Pastors also fall into this trap. We have been called to preach and proclaim the Truth, teaching believers to obey all that Christ taught. At the same time, if one does so in such a way that drives everyone out of the church, then you no longer have a platform for speaking Truth into people’s lives. That does not mean that Truth is to be compromised, but it is important how one presents the Truth. Sadly, too many pastors have chosen another route to go, seeking to build their congregation by entertaining people rather than speaking what is True. In addition, in many places, the government severely restricts what can be said from the pulpit and even in America, certain restrictions are in place if a church wishes to maintain its tax-exempt status. So, when these restrictions would cause one to compromise or otherwise ignore the Truth, what does one do? Who does one serve? My hopes is that it is God’s Truth and not the government, but all too often, it is the other way around.
In our personal lives, we fall prey to this as well. When we are around other people that might get offended if we speak about our faith, what do we do? In our place of employment, is your speech and behavior consistent with the Bible even if your boss asks you to cut corners? Do you fear the criticism of man or of God? The Greek word Mammon is usually associated with money in our modern culture, but it can also refer to worldly things on every level. So, do we pursue the truth or do we pursue someone’s agenda? There are certainly lots of agendas in the church to choose from, but notice Jesus’ warning, if we pursue the agenda of men over God’s Truth, we will end up loving the agenda and despising God. Man cannot serve both God and Mammon.
“And those who are far off shall come and help to build the temple of the Lord.”
-Zechariah 6: 15a, ESV
The prophet has given us a great and grandiose picture of the coronation of the coming Messiah in this passage. A crown with many diadems will adorn the royal head of our master, the Lord Jesus. But Zechariah does not end only looking toward the far future, he closes this passage with a reminder that Yahweh has not forsaken them to failure even in their age. Yes, this reconstruction of the temple is only a shadow and a pointer to the temple of Christ that will come, but it is a reminder that God is faithful to his covenant people. More help is on its way. Ezra will come and Nehemiah will be on his heels.
How often we tend to get discouraged and frustrated with God. We act as if God has abandoned us to our state and are completely oblivious to what God has in the works. How often we pitch in the towel before the event has run its course? And how often have we had to beg forgiveness for out own lack of faith when we see God’s providence delivering us from the very jaws of our enemy.
We need passages like this to remind us that we do not stand out on the battlefield alone. We are not only surrounded by a cloud of witnesses but reinforcements are on the way. We should never fear loosing our last arrow, throwing our last spear, or breaking our last sword in the battle against the enemy for new supplies will arrive as we need them. Yet we will never be able to stockpile them. Just as the Israelites received manna in the desert as a daily provision, so we too will receive provisions from God as they are necessary. What a wonderful God that we have that monitors our daily needs and is in the business of constant provision.
The next time we are tempted to cry out like the martyrs in heaven, “how long,” let us turn to this passage and remember that reinforcements are on their way. Instead of crying out “how long,” we ought to cry out “where can I serve you next.”