The Song of the Mountains – Verse 44
Yeshua/Jesus has asked us where our treasure is, what sort of treasure it is, and He has instructed us regarding how that treasure causes us to experience the world around us. He now brings this section of the Sermon on the Mount to a crescendo – causing us to ask ourselves, “just who are we serving?”
“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stick by one and look down on the other. You cannot serve God and money” (Matt. 6:24).
The underlying meaning of this verse speaks to an ethic of worship – who are we serving, who are we trusting, and at who’s command do we respond?
If you recall the language of the second commandment, “You are to have no other gods before me. You are not to make for yourselves a carved image or any kind of representation of anything in heaven above, on the earth beneath or in the water below the shoreline. You are not to bow down to them or serve them; for I, the Lord you God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sins of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but displaying grace to the thousandth generation of those who love me and obey my commandments” (Ex. 20:3-6).
The second commandment directs the people of God to exclusive worship, based upon His act of salvation referenced in the first commandment. Still, the allure of money, possessions, and the power it seems to bring is always tempting.
John Wesley famously remarked that the last part of a person to be converted is his wallet. I can attest from many years of preaching, that few things that I have taught on, in dozens of congregations, causes people to shift in their seats like the mention of money. It might surprise you to learn that regarding the subject of faith, the Apostolic Scriptures has about 500 verses. On the subject of prayer, also, about 500 verses. On the subject of money, however, we find an astounding 2,350 verses, approximately 29% of the Apostolic Scriptures.
Why would this be? For many of us, money is intimately connected to our understanding of survival, of comfort, and is a direct representation of the fruit of our labor. Keeping all this in mind, unfortunately, we can see that our faith and our finances are closely linked together – undoubtedly warring in our heart. Paul warns us that, “The Love of money is a root for all kinds of evil.” Therefore, money can, if we are not cautious, harden our hearts to the needs of others.
What Yeshua taught.
Yeshua often spoke of money, and its various applications, in the form of parables. He spoke of investments (Matt. 13:44-45), of savings (Matt. 13:52), of debt (Matt. 18:23-35), of earning wages (Matt. 20:1-16), of capital and interest (Matt. 25:14-30), money lending (Lk. 7:41-43), of inheritance (Lk. 15:11-32), and of the contrast between the rich and poor (Lk. 16:19-31).
As I have addressed in previous articles on the Sermon on the Mount, earthly treasure does influence how we see and experience this world; and as we walk this life in faith with Messiah, we must be cautious to yield ourselves to the Lord God, and not to the powerful influence of money.
On my first trip to Kenya, East Africa, I became aware of a need of particular importance. My host was speaking to a gentleman that I had traveled with about a situation regarding a young man was now orphaned, and the primary provider for his four (4) younger siblings. The family had been fishermen on Lake Victoria, and both of this young man’s parents died within weeks of each other. “Steven,” who had wanted to become a teacher, then took on the burden of the family business, but was soon overwhelmed by it and he turned to drugs and alcohol.
Having reached the bottom, he had heard of my friend Pastor Peter, who frequently took in orphans, and walked the fifty (50) miles to his house barefoot. After a time, Peter found a sponsor so that he could go to a local teachers college, and I enter the picture after the boy finished his first year, and lost his sponsor.
I had spent a considerable amount of time with “Steven,” and after I learned of his situation I pledged that I would find the money for his second year of college.
As the Lord would have it, I was preaching at a conference on the compound of the school he attended for a week. I had met the overseer of the school and went to speak with him. He informed me that “Steven” could not return until his fee was paid, but when I guaranteed it, he admitted him marked paid in full – the money was quickly dispatched after I returned home, as my home congregation sponsored the remainder of his education.
“Steven” finished school, found a work-study position to finish a third year qualification to be licensed to teach in any Kenyan school; and when I returned in 2014, he immediately found me and before anything else, brought me to his apartment to introduce me to his wife (he married a young widow with a small daughter), and his new baby. “Steven” not only supported his wife and children, but he paid the school fees for all of his siblings.
With a little generosity of spirit, lives were changed and bettered.
Dear reader, individually we are not called to change the world, that is the position of Messiah, but we are called to share joyfully of what we have – and this is not limited to money – and we do this because we love the Lord more than our earthly treasures.
The longer we live in this life of faith, the more that we discover that money makes the same exclusive demands as the Lord; but while one takes of us, the other gives to us. The Lord loves a cheerful giver – one giving freely – because it is a demonstration, of not only our love for our fellow man, but also our love for Him.
Be well. Shalom.