“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.”
This verse puts a cap on verses 19 to 23, which speak of singleness of heart. Serving God is incompatible with materialism.
No one can serve two masters;
Slaves in the Roman Empire had no rights. Masters made absolute demands on their followers. Service or commitment to one master precludes loyalty to another because it involves exclusive thought and pursuit.
for either he will hate the one and love the other,
“The other” implies distinction in quality rather than a numerical distinction. This is another of a different kind. If we have two masters, we cannot do justice to both. Hate and love are here expressions of absolute versus partial devotion.
or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other.
The choice between God and mammon is mutually exclusive. We cannot serve both at the same time, so we must make a choice between the two. Divided loyalty is not an option. It is either God or materialism, but we cannot serve both.
You cannot serve God and mammon.
The word “mammon” connotes wealth, property. The idea is what is stored up. If we choose materialism, we reject God. The overriding issue is unqualified devotion.
It is impossible to serve God and materialism simultaneously.
Different masters make different demands and we have to make a choice between masters. God expects undivided loyalty. Double-mindedness attempts to sit on the fence. God rejects this half-hearted commitment. Materialism will enslave us if we devote ourselves to it. There is no alternative to both/and; it is either/or. Either we serve materialism or God, not both. The believer must choose between competing loyalties.
Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? Ro 6:16
There is nothing wrong with making money or holding possessions, but there is something wrong with making money our master.