Matthew 6:24,  serving God and Mammon

6:24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other; or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You can’t serve both God and Mammon.”

(Matt 6:24 WEB)

God or Mammon

The English term Mammon comes from the Aramaic for riches, ‘mamon’, which encompassed possessions as well as money. 

Jesus has in mind more than just the conflict of interest that can occur when a person has two jobs. He was talking about the inability of a slave to belong to two masters at once. Jesus’ exaggerated language emphasises the extreme incompatibility between two attitudes, of serving God or serving stuff.

Everyone serves some goal or another, even if it is only an easy life. For many, their goal is greater material prosperity. They are willing to enslave themselves to lenders or careers in order to acquire and maintain their possessions. Furthermore, the increase in what they have often prompts a desire for yet more goods, in a vicious and soul-destroying cycle. If your goal is solely wealth then you are going to hate serving God, because heaven’s treasure is less tangible.

If you are trying to serve God, then wealth and possessions are as likely to be a hindrance as an aid. That is not to say that serving God cannot result in wealth, some famous servants of God (such as Joseph and Nehemiah) were incredibly wealthy by the standards of their time. However, their wealth and status were incidental to their service of God and they used them as tools to achieve their Lord’s ends.