The Kingdom of God part 5: There is only one King!
For this series on the Kingdom of God, we have seen how the Kingdom of God is something that is both now and future, that we live in the Kingdom by following Jesus’ words in the Beatitudes, that the gospel is not just when we die we go to Heaven but is centered on the work of Jesus, and that we can approach the throne of the King in prayer. This installment, I want to focus on the fact that there is only one King.
Let’s first look at our text, Matthew 6:24:
“No one can serve two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money (Mammon). Matthew 6:24 CSB
This installment of my Kingdom of God series was inspired by John Wesley’s 9th sermon on the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). In that sermon, Wesley points out three critical points about this passage.
First, we are not able to walk with God in His Kingdom unless we believe in Him. Belief, faith, πίστις pistis, is putting one’s trust in something. It isn’t just an acknowledgment of facts but is putting your trust into something as an act of your will. So, Jesus, in this passage, challenges His listeners as to which they serve. “No one can serve two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money (Mammon).” Mammon was the pagan god of riches. Here Jesus is equating that god with money itself. Money can be a god. Jesus is saying that there is no room for any other god within His Kingdom. You can put your faith in cash or you can put your trust in God, but you can’t do both.
The second thing is that we need to love the King. Notice how Matthew states that someone will be “devoted” ἀντέχω antechō to one or the other. Jesus also reminds us of this love later in Matthew:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40 CSB
We are to desire and devote ourselves to God alone. Nothing else can come in between the King and us.
Living in the Kingdom of God means that we put our belief in Him, we love Him, and thirdly we serve Him. By serving Him, we are imitating Him. By serving God by serving others, we are displaying the character of God. Those who serve God are known by their humility and love. Consider these two verses:
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45
Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. 1 John 4:8-12 CSB
Belief. Love. Serve. That is how we walk in the Kingdom of God.
But what does it look like when we put our faith, love, and servitude into mammon (or any other false god)? First, we trust in the world. When one believes in the world, then the concept of “enough” vanishes. The definition of a rich person is anyone who has $1 more than I do. No amount of money can fill the soul. So, when we put our faith into mammon, there is never satisfaction. Placing faith in mammon or any other god is putting faith into a failing and fallen world.
Second, when we serve mammon, we are actually showing our love for mammon. This love has no return. Money is used and is gone, and then you have to get more. Anything money buys has temporary pleasure, but not actual, long-lasting fulfillment.
This love for mammon leads, thirdly, to an obedience to the world and a conforming to the world. Our goal when we are serving mammon is to gratify our desires and longings, and we will do what the world wants us to do to gain what we selfishly want.
Do you see the contrast? There is room for only one King. I end with these words from Wesley:
“Do you believe in God through Christ? Do you trust in him as your strength, your help, your shield, and your exceeding great reward? As your happiness? Your end in all, above all things? Then you cannot trust in riches. It is absolutely impossible you should, so long as you have this faith in God.
Do you love God? Do you seek and find happiness in him? Then you cannot love the world, neither the things of the world. You are crucified to the world, and the world crucified to you.
Do you resemble God? Are you merciful, as your Father is merciful? Are you transformed, by the renewal of your mind, into the image of him that created you? Then you cannot be conformed to the present world.
Do you obey God? Are you zealous to do his will on earth as the angels do in Heaven? Then it is impossible you should obey mammon. Then you set the world at open defiance.”