A Jealous God; December 18, 2019

Matthew 6:21, 24 “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
“No one can serve two masters. 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 both God and Money.”

You could call the Sermon on the Mount a “toe stomping exercise.” Jesus covered many topics and He didn’t mince words. These two verses are justly famous, and they lay the foundation for what should be our attitude toward wealth. However, they are even deeper than that, because our “treasure” can be almost anything at all. You could rephrase the last sentence as, “You cannot serve both God and fame,” or, “You cannot serve both God and sports,” or anything else besides God. In dealing with the Israelites God described Himself, or had His servants describe Him, many times as “jealous.” That was exactly what Jesus is talking about here. The image we have of jealousy isn’t pretty at all, with people doing spiteful things to each other, all the way to murder, but that isn’t what God is like at all. Jesus’ turn of phrase is much easier for us to grasp in our context, since we don’t deal as consciously with warring religions (even though those are a very real issue). God wants undivided devotion simply because nothing else works. The moment we substitute anything for God in our affection and allegiance, we lose, and lose badly. God doesn’t desire loss for us but rather abundance, and so He tells us He’s jealous. We come back to the reality that every one of God’s rules for us is for our good, not to bind us but to liberate us. (1 John 5:3) When we get that firmly into our heart and mind, we seek out His rules like the author of Psalm 119, and that is a blessed state indeed.

I don’t know exactly when I first realized this truth, but it was a long time ago. That said, I’ve let other things edge God out more times than I like to think about. The thing is, God created everything for our blessing, but when I place the blessing ahead of Him, I lose. I am to receive His blessings with gratitude, but keep my focus and my allegiance on Him. A particular pitfall for me, and I think for a lot of people, is placing my own opinion, my judgment, ahead of God. I can look at a situation and evaluate it and decide on a course of action without ever considering God and inquiring what He has to say about it. That’s not really serving Him! As it says in Psalm 119:11, the more of His Word I get into my heart and mind the less likely I am to do that, but it can still happen, even as steeped in the Bible as I am at this point. It happened just the other day, even while I thought I was serving God! Humility is essential, and a childlike awareness that my Daddy knows best, so if I follow Him I’m OK.

Father, thank You for this powerful reminder. You’ve given me another message. Guide me in when and how I’m to deliver it, so that Your people may be built up as You intend, for their blessing and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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