The Two Masters
Luke 16:10-13
He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.…

"No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other: or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon" (Matthew 6:24). In one point of view, this sounds very strangely; for nothing is more certain than that we can serve two masters. Every child that is dutifully reared serves two masters — its father and its mother; and it is quite possible for one to be a servant of a whole family of masters. But in order that this may take place, it is indispensably necessary that the masters should be alike in feeling, and identical in interest. But if masters are antagonistic the one to the other, if their interests are not only different but conflicting, if to serve one of necessity puts you in opposition to the other, then it is impossible to serve two. And the more you look at it the plainer it becomes. Suppose one man represents perfect honour, and another represents perfect meanness, and you undertake to serve both of them, what sort of success will you have? Suppose one man be called Truth, and another be called Falsehood, and you attempt to serve both of them, is it not plain that you will either hate the one and love the other, or else hold to the one and despise the other? You cannot serve both at the same time. No man can serve purity and lust at the same time. No man can serve good nature and anger at the same time. Are God and mammon, then, antagonistic? And what are the ways in which man is looked at from the two spheres — the Divine and the earthly? Mammon regards man as a creature of time and this world, and thinks of him, plans for him, educates him, and uses him, am it, like the beast of the field, he only had existence here, and as if his existence was only related to the comforts that belong to this state of being. But God looks upon man as a creature of eternal duration, passing through this world. The chief end and interest of men are also viewed antagonistically. In short, man in his immediate and visible good, is that which mammon regards. On the other hand, God regards not indifferently the interests of our body; but more He regards the interests of our being. Mammon builds men in the finer traits which they possess in common with animals. God would build men in those traits which they have in common with Him. One builds for this world exclusively. The other builds for this world and the next. There is nothing more certain than that a man's character depends upon his ruling purpose. Let us look at it. A man may be a thoroughly worldly man — that is, all his ruling aims, and desires, and expectations, may make him worldly; and yet he may be observant of external religious services. A man is not to be supposed to be less a worldly man because when the Sabbath day comes round he knows it. He maybe, also, a believer in the gospel, and in the most evangelical and orthodox type of doctrine — as an idea. It is quite possible for a man to be supremely worldly, and yet to have strong religious feelings. There is nothing more common than instances which go to show that we like as a sentiment things that we do not like as an ethical rule. Nay, it is possible for a man to go further, and yet be a thoroughly worldly man. And here it is that the distinction comes in. Although a man may be a servant of mammon, and may serve him with heart and soul; yet, externally, there may be a great many appearances that look as though he was serving God. And men really seem to think that they can serve God and mammon [

1. There is reason m believe that the morality of multitudes of men, though they are good in some degree, leaves out that which alone can make it a ground of complacence and trust. A man may be a moral man, and leave out the whole of the life to come. The Greeks were moral men, many of them. The Romans were moral men, many of them.

2. There is reason to fear that the religion of multitudes of professors of religion is but a form of church-morality. You may tell me that this is a misjudgment. I hope it is. But what sort of lives are we living, when it is possible to misinterpret them? What if I should have occasion to say the same things about your allegiance to the government that I have said about your religion? There is not a man of any note in the community about whose allegiance you have any doubt. If I point to one man, you say, "He is not true to his country." If I point to another man, you say, "He is loyal"; and you state facts to prove it. You say, "When his personal interest came in collision with the interest of the country, and one or the other had to be given up, he gave up his personal interest." But when God's claims come in collision with your personal interests, God's claims go down, and your personal interests go up. Now, there ought to be no cause for doubt that you are Christians. A man is bound to live towards his country so that there shall be no mistake about his patriotism. And God says, "You are bound to live towards Me so that in some way men shall see that you are My children." You are bound to live in everything as you do in some things. You are attempting, partly through ignorance, partly by reason of carelessness, and partly on account of too low an estimate of the sacredness of your religious obligations, to serve God with your right hand, and mammon with your left; and men see it, and they doubt you; and that is not the worst of it — they doubt God, they doubt Christ, they doubt the reality of religion. And to be the occasion of doubt concerning matters of such grave importance, is culpable. No man, therefore, has a right to allow any mistake to exist in the matter of his Chris. tian character. There is need, Christian brethren, of severe tests in this particular. You need to settle these questions: "Where is my allegiance? Am I with God, and for God supremely?"

(H. W. Beecher.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.

WEB: He who is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much. He who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.

The Two Contrary Masters
Top of Page
Top of Page