I know you’ve heard the worn out expression, “Trying to burn the candle at both ends.” If you’re like me there have been times that we’ve had to put that old saying to the test. Let me tell you from personal experience that when we do this there’s only one place to hold on to that candle and that’s in the middle. As the candle burns shorter and shorter on each end one of two things is going to eventually happen; either we hold on too long and we get burned or it gets too hot and we drop it. It is not something we can do forever.
It’s the same in life; when we try to do too much it’s just like burning a candle at both ends and eventually we’re going to run into a problem that we can’t handle requiring us to make a choice, or we just get burned out and drop the whole thing. Back in the days when Deb and I were pastors we often found ourselves burning the candle at both ends. In fact there were times when we had it burning at both ends and several places through the middle as well. I was working a full-time job and trying to fulfill the role as senior pastor while Deb was putting in twelve to fourteen hour days cleaning coordinating and taking care of a Youth Center for the congregation. It came to the point that we were only home together one evening per week and honestly there was so much that had to be done that we felt guilty about having that one evening each week to ourselves. Now isn’t that ridiculous? We were way too busy and still there was always something else to do. I’m glad those days are over!
In Matthew 6:24 and again in Luke 16:13 Jesus talked about this very thing. He called it “trying to serve two masters” or two bosses. Those who have tried to dedicate themselves to two full-time jobs know well what Jesus was referring to. There will come a time when the jobs conflict with each other and then you have to make a choice as to which one you’re going to be loyal to. Somebody’s not going to understand and the result could be the loss of one of those jobs. Jesus finished his comparison by saying that we could not serve God and Mammon.
The word “mammon” in the truest definition is wealth personified; in other words wealth with a personality. The only way wealth can have a personality is when it takes on the personality of its owner. Serving the Lord and serving wealth is impossible. I’m not saying that it is wrong to be rich. There’s no sin in money. How can a piece of paper defined as a certificate of deposit – a dollar bill - be evil? It isn’t. But the greed that compels people to lie, cheat, steal, murder, rob, lust, hate and envy is very evil. That’s what usually comes into the heart of those who are serving mammon.
Mammon causes the heart of the individual to be turned away from serving God and concentrating only on how to get more. 1 Timothy 6:10 tells us that the love of money is the root of all evil. Think about it; this verse is saying that all the evil that takes place in the world stems from the desire for wealth. The desire for wealth stems from trying to escape the curse of work that was put on mankind when Adam and Eve sinned in Eden. If you have enough wealth you don’t have to work because you can have anything you want or need. The problem with that is this: even if one gets enough wealth to last them the rest of their lives they still aren’t satisfied. There are more Billionaires in the world today that at any other time in history. How in the world could a person not live on a billion dollars, or a measly million dollars? Still the race is on to have more and more and more.
But Jesus said that we can't be loyal to both. We will despise or hate one or the other. We can't serve two masters. Jesus didn't say that the rich couldn't go to Heaven. But the rich really face a trial of which most of us cannot relate. I hear someone saying "I'd sure like to give it a try!" Well, me too, but so far God hasn't allowed it, and well, He's my Master so if I ever get rich it will only be through and by Him. So I guess the only thing left to do is to choose. Which master are we going to serve? Will we serve God (who in reality makes a billionaire look like a pauper) or mammon? Hmmmmm? Which is it going to be?