No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. -Matthew 6:24
The first time I read this verse, I didn’t really see its applicability to modern-day, first world life. Nobody has masters, at least not in the sense that people did during the time period in which Matthew was written. We are free, autonomous, independent individuals who serve nobody.
I have never known a person who does not serve a master. Some are enslaved to their finances (the second part of the aforementioned verse says that one cannot serve both God and money). Some serve their job or education. Some serve other people. Some serve their whims and desires. And yes, some do serve God. Whether we acknowledge it, everybody is motivated by someone or something. It’s the nature of man. We have been created by God, so therefore this nature is God’s will for us. It is not innately bad. However, as all flawed humans do, we twist it into something it wasn’t meant to be. Other people and things become our masters.
I am a people-pleaser. I find it distressing when I’m in somebody’s doghouse, so I try to be as nice as possible in order to avoid conflict. Admittedly, I have elevated other people above God. As much as I try to make God my one master (although I am naturally deterred by the word “master”–perhaps I’ll write on that later), I always find myself returning to my people-pleasing ways. Somehow, I think that I can put God first and remain beholden to other people. This directly contradicts Matthew 6:24. When I put my fellow man first, I become angry and spiteful towards God when there is any sort of relational distress. I am devoted to humans and against my Lord.
Where you put the majority of your focus determines who you serve. If you are fixated on your career, you will see it as superior to God–whether you acknowledge it or not. When you see that career as superior, you will push God’s will out of the way in order to chase what you think is best. You go against him. To whom do you want to devote yourself? That which is eternal and unbreakable, or that which is fleeting? Think. Choose. It is up to you to determine where you will put your focus.