Explaining Away What Jesus Taught…
I recently read some comments by one of America’s most well-known evangelical leaders concerning Christ’s warnings against laying up earthly treasures and the impossibility of serving God and mammon—the same scriptural passages that we are now considering. He wrote, “If we regard those possessions as our treasures, the affections of our hearts will be directed toward material, temporal, things. As a result, our relationship with God will be hindered� (emphasis mine). To support his teaching, he then immediately quoted Matthew 6:24 (�No one can serve two masters�).
This is a classic example of the way Jesus’ sayings are so often skillfully stripped of their meaning. Can you see the subtle hazard in what this man wrote? Supposedly, our possessions are dangerous only if we regard them as treasures. We can have as many things as our greedy hearts desire, just as long as we don’t treasure them!
This is just another version of defining greed as nothing more than an attitude toward possessions. In so many people’s minds, greed has nothing to do with what they possess, but only with how they view those possessions. But that is completely illogical. Ownership cannot be separated from attitude. Every possession owned reveals a heart attitude by the owner toward himself, God and others. Whom do you love? Your possessions reveal the answer. Every possession is a revelation.
Moreover, this well-known evangelical leader stated that if we do regard our possessions as treasures, our relationship with God is only hindered. That stands in direct contradiction to what Jesus stated. Jesus emphatically declared that there is no middle ground. If we serve God, we cannot serve mammon. If we serve mammon, we cannot serve God. One can’t serve a little bit of both. If you love one, you will hate the other. Yet this man claims that you can have a relationship with God and serve mammon; you will just have a hindered relationship!
How easy it is to be deceived in this regard. How many think that they love God, and at the same time think they are neutral about money, possessing no hatred toward it in any sense? Jesus said that is impossible. If you love one master, you’ll despise the other. One who loves God hates money as a master. He hates even the thought of a life in bondage to its lordship. Everywhere he goes, the sight of money’s enslavement of people trouble him, primarily because money requires people’s devotion, a devotion that rightfully should belong to God. Greed is idolatry, and God is a jealous God (see Ex. 34:14; Eph. 5:5; Col. 3:5).
The sight of money’s enslavement of people also troubles the lover of God because he thinks of all the good that could be done with the money that is selfishly being wasted by those who love it. The lover of God strives to eradicate anything that even smells like greed in his own life. That is why Paul wrote so solemnly that we should not allow greed even to be named among us (see Eph. 5:3).
By the same token, one who loves money hates the thought of a life truly devoted to God. He couldn’t imagine giving up any of his pleasures or anything he owns. In fact, he longs for more of both. He’ll ignore or twist God’s word to justify his lifestyle. He despises the thoughts of self-sacrificing love for fellow man and costly obedience to Christ, proving that he actually despises God. Jesus plainly said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15). He wasn’t talking about all His commandments except the ones that have something to do with money and possessions.
If we love Jesus, we won’t lay up treasures on earth. If we do lay up earthly treasures, we prove that we don’t love Jesus. It is just that simple.