Think back on the parable of the sower in Matthew 13:21-22 and pay particular attention to what causes some to be offended.
- Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. 22 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful (Matt. 13:21-22).
What are all these desires of the world? They are things that take our time and effort. If our lives are focused on the things of the world, how much time do we have left for the Lord? How can we be good ground?
- They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. 14 And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection (Luke 8:13-14)?.
Note that in Luke he adds two more things and describes the problem quite nicely. In verse 14, some brethren are choked. The weeds take all their time. Notice what is choking them—the cares, riches, pleasures of this life. These things are not evil in themselves. Jesus used money but he did not love it (Matt. 17:27; 1 Tim. 6:10). He was not given to pleasures the world enjoys. Those things are all temporary. No matter what we do with them they are only temporary. Only what we do for the Lord is eternal.
Can anyone who loves this cosmos be pleasing to God? Can you love the cosmos and the good things of the world as long as you do not love the evil? If that is possible, then of what value is the command in 1 John 2:15-17? Let’s see what else Jesus has to say in the Sermon on the Mount. “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” (Matt. 6:24). Why did the translators put in the word mammon instead of material things? What is mammon? The English translators used the Aramaic word mammon to stay out of trouble with the one who commissioned the translation. What would King James have done to them if they had translated that word properly? How does this apply to us? We must love one and hate the other. How do we hate these material things? Do we take a hammer and go around beating them? How do we hate the world and the things of the world? Why can we not serve God and mammon at the same time? Is there a difference between not serving mammon and not loving the world?
- No servant 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. 14 And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him. 15 And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God (Luke 16:13-15).
Literally the word mammon in both passages means material. Why did the Pharisees not like this sermon? They coveted the material things. What should we not love? How can we hate or despise material? What did Jesus think of material things?
“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2). What did Jesus think of man’s judgment? What did he think of the shame? Where did the shame come from? The word “despise” is Strong’s Greek # 2706 and is the same word that is used in Matt. 6:24—hold to one and despise the other. Jesus’ despised the shame, but we must understand where the shame came from. Whose judgment was it? Man judged the cross as a shame. What did Jesus think of their judgment? He held on to God’s judgment and despised man’s. What if we hold on to people’s judgment that material things are important? Do we value those material things?
“And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again” (2 Cor. 5:15). Jesus died that we would not live for ourselves. If we live to ourselves, what do we love? We love the world and the things in it—mammon. But if we live for Jesus, will we love the material things; will we value them?