There are two things in life that we use on just about a daily basis and both of those things can be good or evil depending on our attitude toward them and our use of them. One is fire, though we don’t actually build fires every day, we use things that are formed and molded as a result of heat and fire. Fire is necessary in refining processes that allow us to have jewelry, coins and other valuable items. But that fire, uncontrolled, can be very destructive. Each year thousands of lives and homes and acres of forest are lost to fires. The trials we go through are compared to fires that refine us. We can use those times of refining to draw closer to God or we can use them as a reason to revel against God. The other, of course, is money. Money can become our idol, our master, when we spend too much time focused on earining it and using it for the wrong reasons. Or it can serve us well when we have the proper balance of work versus worship. We can use it to spread the KIngdom of God here on earth in multiple ways or we can use to purchase useless items. Both fire and money can be great servants or destructive masters. The choice is ours.
24 “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money. — Matt. 6:24 NLT
4 You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? 6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble. — James 4:4-6 NIV
When we accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior, we were instantly given the gift of the Holy Spirit. When we received that Spirit, we become a part of the bride of Chirst and He has so much more that He wants to share with us. God placed Him in our hearts to lead us and to guide us into all truth. The Trinity longs for the time when we will allow the Holy Spirit to do just that. They are jealous of the time we spend focused on worldly things. Just as new lovers and newlyweds want to spend all of their time together, so does God want to spend His time with us. Just as Jesus warned us that we have committed adultery with a woman/man when we allow immoral thoughts to remain in our minds, we commit adultery with the world when we spend time on worldly things. To the extent that those things become more important, take up more of our time and cause us to make comments that hurt other people, we have become friends with the world and enemies of God. We are incapable of serivng two masters.
24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. — Matt. 6:24 NIV
We could replace the word money in this verse with other words, such as drugs, grandkids, popularity, power, sports, vocations, possessions or you can fill in the blank and the verse would still be just as true. Anything that we put above being obedient to God in any and every respect becomes our idol and we become enemies of God. When we face a choice in what to do or say and we feel that little nudge from the Holy Spirit, we must learn to stop and think. Do I really want to hurt my spouse, my Jesus who died for me? If not, then we need to temper our words and/or actions or completely change them so that they honor and glorify God. We need to remember David’s request:
14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer. — Psalm 19:14 NKJV
18 You who are slaves must submit to your masters with all respect. Do what they tell you—not only if they are kind and reasonable, but even if they are cruel. 19 For God is pleased when, conscious of his will, you patiently endure unjust treatment. 20 Of course, you get no credit for being patient if you are beaten for doing wrong. But if you suffer for doing good and endure it patiently, God is pleased with you. 21 For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.–1 Peter 2:18-21 (NLT)
In today’s society and in most countries, we no longer have slavery. But in our workplaces, we do have taskmasters that often treat us unfairly. So, Peter’s admonition to endure with patience is directed to us. Just as Jesus is our example of enduring unjust pain and persecution, so are we to do the same. God is our Jehovah-jireh, our provider. He has provided us with jobs so that we can provide for our families. Instead of complaining and gossiping about our bosses, we should be thankful for the provision. No matter who signs the paycheck, God is our provider. We are to set the example for those around by having a grateful attitude and not joining in when others are criticizing the employer(s). Jesus promised us that we would be treated unjustly and offended by the world, so we should not be surprised by the unjust treatment we receive. We have not yet been required to be faithful when we are facing death for Christ’s sake. We should have the same attitude that the apostles had in the First Century. 40 The others accepted his advice. They called in the apostles and had them flogged. Then they ordered them never again to speak in the name of Jesus, and they let them go. 41 The apostles left the high council rejoicing that God had counted them worthy to suffer disgrace for the name of Jesus–Acts 5:40-41 (NLT)
6 Encourage young men to use good judgment. 7 Always set an example by doing good things. When you teach, be an example of moral purity and dignity. 8 Speak an accurate message that cannot be condemned. Then those who oppose us will be ashamed because they cannot say anything bad about us.9 Tell slaves who are believers to place themselves under their masters’ authority in everything they do. Tell them to please their masters, not to argue with them 10 or steal from them. Instead, tell slaves to show their masters how good and completely loyal they can be. Then they will show the beauty of the teachings about God our Savior in everything they do.–Titus 2:6-10 (GW)
We should always take the time to encourage others. Our society is learning that most habits are “caught, not taught”. Because of that, we need to be sure our lifestyle reflects that of Jesus. We must “walk the talk”. This is true for all of us, but a higher demand is put on teachers. We must attempt to live lives that will not give others a reason to disparage the gospel. In this passage, we can substitute employers for masters and employees for slaves. Though, employees are not slaves, the employer has purchased and the employee has sold a portion of his time to the employer. Therefore, to not give all we can give on the job is stealing from our employers. As Christians, we should be the best employees in the workplace, not complaining or murmuring, but working hard to please our employers in every way, as long as it does not require us to be immoral or do anything illegal. This pleases God and draws others to Him.