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Jesus looks me hard in the eye. Jesus is clear. Jesus isn’t going to pull any punches with me.

Jesus loves me. Jesus cares about me deeply. Jesus has my best interest at heart.

That is the way our Master Jesus goes about teaching me, His slave and disciple.

As he went out into the street, a man came running up, greeted him with great reverence, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to get eternal life?”

Jesus said, “Why are you calling me good? No one is good, only God. You know the commandments: Don’t murder, don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, don’t lie, don’t cheat, honor your father and mother.”

He said, “Teacher, I have—from my youth—kept them all!” Jesus looked him hard in the eye—and loved him! He said, “There’s one thing left. Go sell whatever you own and give it to the poor. All your wealth will then be heavenly wealth. And come follow me.

The man’s face clouded over. This was the last thing he expected to hear, and he walked off with a heavy heart. He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and not about to let go. | Mark 10:17-22 (The Message Bible)

Jesus wants me to get rid of the things and possessions in my life that keep me from following Him. Jesus is on a journey in my life. Jesus wants me to accompany Him; follow Him.

What is holding me back? What is getting in the way? Is it what I own? Is it my possessions? Is it my wealth? Is it my riches?

I am challenged by Jesus to seek first the Kingdom of God. Jesus is King of God’s country. I am to build up treasure in heaven, not here. Jesus has much to say about wealth and materialism.

Yes, Jesus, my loving Master, wants to know what is keeping me from following Him.

The Apostle Paul sums it up well.

Tell those rich in this world’s wealth to quit being so full of themselves and so obsessed with money, which is here today and gone tomorrow. Tell them to go after God, who piles on all the riches we could ever manage — to do good, to be rich in helping others, to be extravagantly generous. If they do that, they’ll build a treasury that will last, gaining life that is truly life.

1 Timothy 6:17-19 (The Message Bible)

Who will I serve? It is a stunning question. Jesus now explains that behind the choice between two treasures (where I lay them up) and two visions (where I fix my eyes) there lies the still more basic choice between two masters (whom I am going to serve).

It is a choice between God and mammon, that is between the living Creator himself and any object of our my creation I term ‘money’ (‘mammon’ being the transliteration of an Aramaic word for wealth). For I cannot serve both.

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal,  but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.

Matthew 6:19-24

  • Am I hearing Jesus correctly? Yes, I am. And, Jesus is serious. I can disagree with this saying of Jesus but that seems to be useless. I can refuse to be confronted with such a stark and outright choice, and see no necessity for it. I can blandly assure myself that it is perfectly possible to serve two masters simultaneously, for I can manage it very nicely. Several possible arrangements and adjustments appeal to me. Either I serve God on Sundays and wealth on weekdays, or God with my lips and wealth with me heart, or God in appearance and wealth in reality, or God with half my being and wealth with the other half.
  • Can I compromise? Nope! It is this popular compromise solution which Jesus declares to be impossible: No one can serve two masters … I cannot serve God and wealth (notice the ‘can’ and the ‘cannot’). Would-be compromisers misunderstand his teaching, for they miss the picture of slave and slave-owner which lies behind his words. This is simply because God is God: ‘I am the Lord, that is my name; my glory I give to no other.’ To try to share Jesus with other loyalties is to have opted for idolatry.
  • What is my choice? And when the choice is seen for what it is—a choice between Creator and creature, between the glorious personal God and a miserable thing called money, between worship and idolatry—it seems inconceivable that I could make the wrong choice. For now it is a question not just of comparative durability and comparative benefit, but of comparative worth: the intrinsic worth of the One and the intrinsic worthlessness of the other. Will I choose Jesus or will I choose wealth?

Want to know more? Everything Jesus had to say about the homeless, wealth, prosperity, poverty, riches, the poor, the needy and giving.