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Monday, 2 December 2013

Who is your master?

Juxtaposition is a lovely word!  It means the act of positioning close together (or side by side), usually in order to make an emphasis.  Yesterday, I experienced an unusual juxtaposition.  Well, an 'almost one'!

At the morning worship service in Wishaw Baptist Church the pastor is leading us through that passage in the Gospel according to Matthew that is generally referred to as The Sermon on the Mount.  Yesterday, we reached 6:24 - "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 mammon."  In the version that was being read, that Aramaic word 'mammon' is usually translated as 'money'.

I don't wish to rehearse the full message, but one of the key points that was made is that what is being referred to here is mastery.  The original hearers would have known that, in their culture (and we must always be careful to consider the original culture!), in which a slave was the absolute property of his master, serving two would have been impossible!  So, Jesus is saying, if we allow money to be our master - and in our materialistic, consumer-orientated, society, that is not difficult - then we cannot be whole-heartedly following Him!

Then, last evening, my wife and I were at the Sunday Fellowship Meeting of Preshal.  The speaker was someone whose name, at least, is known to many people.  It was a certain Brian Souter, a man who is, financially, much wealthier than I am ever likely to be!  However, no-one who didn't know about him would ever have guessed it!  He is, as I already knew, as 'common', and down-to-earth as it is possible to be.  He is, to me, the living proof that it is possible to have a great deal of money in one's bank account - and still be a slave of Jesus.

So, the importance of money is not how we gain it; how much of it we give away; or how we garner it (sorry - that's the best I can do for alliteration!!).  It's the place it holds in our lives.   I am currently working on vol.2 of my book series (this one is on Foundations of the Faith).  This evening, I have started looking at the Ten Commandments.  The first of those reads: "I am YHWH your God, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.  You shall have no other gods before Me." (Ex.20:2-3) It is when money - or anything else - takes His place, that we find ourselves losing touch with Him!

Paul wrote "... I have learned, in whatever state I am, to be content." (Phil 4:11)As we commence the inevitable count-down to Christmas, may our eyes be fixed, not on the commercial advertisements that would happily see all of us drown in a sea of financial debt, but on "... Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith Who, for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." (Heb 12:2).

That is how we will find true peace, true contentment, and true joy. 

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