|Volume 19 Number 6 June 2017||
Brian R. Kenyon
Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24). This verse teaches the impossibility of serving two masters!
Complete loyalty to one, rules out complete loyalty to another. In ancient days, a slave was meant to belong wholly to one master. It must be pointed out that slavery is not the same as employment, although some principles may overlap. We may simultaneously serve two employers, but not two “masters” (which is from the same Greek word usually translated “Lord”).
Failure inevitably results when we attempt to give ourselves wholly to two masters. There can be no “middle ground.” In each case, one attitude toward one master rules out that same attitude toward the other master. If there is “love” for one master, there can only be “hate” for the other. If we are “loyal” to one master, we will only “despise” the other.
God and “mammon” are polar opposites. The word “mammon” is used as a personification of wealth or material prosperity (Luke 16:9, 11, 13). The Scriptures document well the spiritually fatal problems that materialism causes (1 Timothy 6:6-10; 2 Timothy 4:10). Even if wealth is gained legitimately, it is evil when it rivals our loyalty to God. It has been said, “Money is a good servant, but a ruthless master.” Worldliness is totally incompatible with God (1 John 2:15-17). We can devote ourselves wholly to God or wholly to “mammon,” but it is impossible to devote ourselves wholly to both (Matthew 10:37-39; 22:37).
We must choose a master. If we have not obeyed Christ, He is not our Lord (Luke 6:46). Only by obeying the doctrine of Christ can we become the “servants of righteousness” (Romans 6:16-18). Why not choose Christ and obey His Word today?
The Two Builders
Things in Common
Both men in the context of Matthew 7:21-27 came and heard Jesus. That was commendable of them both. What did they hear? They both heard Christ’s words. There is a necessity of hearing (Romans 10:17; John 6:44-45). Yet, hearing alone is insufficient (James 1:27)
Both men were disciples, learners or followers. Both were builders. Their intentions were honorable. They saw the necessity of building a house or a place of refuge. Many now see the necessity of religion of some kind. Some now have different reasons for religion.
Work was involved in the building. Some resolve to build but abandon or procrastinate. Some start but cease their work. Both of these builders, though, continued throughout their lives, and both erected a house or completed the building on which he was working
The outward appearance of the two buildings was similar. Today, many religious people profess similar religious beliefs. Often, persons don’t see the differences in religion now. All people see, for instance, is that they worship, etc.
In Matthew 7, both men had a sense of security, satisfaction, security and peace of mind. However, one had a false, deceitful hope (peace with self only). Likewise, many today are satisfied to wait until judgment to test self (2 Corinthians 13:5). Both houses in Matthew 7 looked equally safe in fair weather. However, then, both had a common experience or trial. Both structures were tested by same measurement; there was one standard (John 12:48). The same is true respecting mankind. No one will escape a common and final judgment (2 Corinthians 5:10; 1 Corinthians 3:13).
There was a contrast between the two builders in personal character. One was wise, and one was foolish. The wise considers the value of the soul (Matthew 16:24). Wise men follow divine instruction (1 Corinthians 3:12-13)—applying the wisdom of the Great Architect. The wise man was prudent regarding the future, and appearance was merely a secondary consideration.
The foolish lives for the present. He is wise in own conceit and walks by opinion (Proverbs 12:15). A foolish man looks on the outward and judges by appearances alone. In religious matters today, such a man compares opinions on social drinking, instrumental music in worship, women leading in worship or prayer.
There is a difference in practice between the wise and the foolish. Often, there is a difference between profession and obedience. The wise execute faith and works in their lives (James 2:17ff; Luke 6:46; 2 Peter 1:5-8), whereas, the foolish may serve partially and with substitutes.
In the Matthew 7 narration, there were differences in foundation: rock versus sand. The rock foundation provided stability for the building, regardless of cost. True beauty depends upon a solid foundation.
Today, churches build on creeds, tradition, etc. A religious life built on morality alone is equivalent to building upon sand. The rock in the narration corresponds to obedient faith (Romans 6:17-18; Ephesians 2:19; Acts 8:37). The one foundation of 1 Corinthians 3:11 is one that has been dug deeply. One must return to the church that was begun in Jerusalem, going backward beyond more recent human tradition, for the solid truth. The wise man seems overly scrupulous to others. The sand represents human reason, dogmas, peculiar experiences, etc. Whatever is not the truth is built on proverbial sand. Who in real life would build a house on the sand?
The Wise man’s house did not fall. It was built for the inevitable storm. Likewise, today, we need to be prepared with stormproof religion. We and our religion will be measured by the Truth before the judgment (2 Timothy 2:15). Building on the rock represents peace and everlasting security.
The foolish man’s house fell. That represents a wrecked life’s work. In Matthew 7, the house on the sand experienced a “great fall.” It may be inconceivable to the finite mind, but the scenario depicts a total and irreparable spiritual failure. There was no second chance to rebuild, and neither can one’s life be redone at the Judgment. Instead there will be bitter disappointment. Just as the house upon the sand was built but all was lost, similarly, souls represented thereby will face the loss of all.
Only one spiritual house will stand. There is only one way of religion in Christianity (John 14:6). Not all religions are built by God’s Word, and hence, they will be destroyed (Matthew 15:13). Jesus was frank about it. We would do well, as did our Lord, to eliminate false hope.
Judgment is the final testing (Matthew 25:30ff). The time remaining for any of us or before the return of our Lord Jesus Christ is uncertain. None of us know when the clouds on horizon for some now will become a storm. We must build now for eternity. Fathers, how have you built your house? Will it provide security for you and your family? If not, now is the time to rebuild, before it is everlastingly too late.