In the end, our purpose in life comes down to one of two things. Jesus sums it like this; “No servant can serve two masters … he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.” He ends by bluntly saying, “You cannot serve God and money” (Luke 16:13). What is it to serve money?
This is not the common Greek word for ‘serve’; in Acts the word only occurs in 20:19 when Paul addresses the Ephesian elders (note that Luke was with him at the time). Paul told them, “You yourselves know how I lived … serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials … I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable …”. This was serving indeed!
In writing to the Romans about issues over the law of Moses Paul says, “but now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so now we serve not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit” (7:6). But the commitment involved in serving is parallel; it is the same! Most interesting is the fact that the one place where John used the Greek word in his gospel (8:33) it is translated as “enslaved”!
Those serving money are enslaved to it. It is the ‘be all and end all’ of their thinking. Today, it is a matter of the things money can buy, the pleasure and pride of owning the best of everything, of taking fabulous holidays, etc., with a token gesture toward others to ease their conscience, even fitting in a visit to church.
Those who serve God, see how temporary and misleading are the rewards of serving money. People who decide to serve God have a greater vision. That famous chapter of Hebrews 11 uses the example of Moses when, surrounded by wealth as the adopted grandson of Pharaoh, he choose “to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt” (verses 25,26).
What do we consider to be of greater value today? It is not easy to make Christ our choice. Some, foolishly, try to have it both ways. Be careful not to be neither one thing nor another (read Revelation 3:15,16).