Can anyone serve two masters?

Seventh in a series of short answers to questions about the New Testament.

Consider Matt. 6:24: No one can be a slave of two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot be slaves of God and money.

Can anyone serve two masters? Isn’t it possible to work hard, be successful and serve the Lord?

This isn’t a question of personal wealth or whether a Christian should have a strong work ethic. Many Old Testament and New Testament figures are both wealthy and devoted followers of the Lord. Besides, we are exhorted in Scripture to honor God with our labors. Ecclesiastes 9:10, for example, says: “Whatever your hands find to do, do with [all] your strength …” And the apostle Paul writes: “And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Col. 3:17).

Jesus’ focus in Matt. 6:24 is more on a person’s allegiance than his or her activities. More to the point, the Son of Man is nudging us to consider our citizenship. We are either citizens of the kingdom of heaven and committed to the King, or we are citizens of this world and enslaved to its evil system. This is not to say there are no carnal Christians, or generous unbelievers. But it is to remind us that where our treasure is — either in heaven or on earth — our heart naturally will follow.