Tag Archives: Matthew 6:24

Contender to the Throne

18 Apr

My first car was a 1972 Lincoln Mark IV. While it’s been years since I last sat on its slightly worn emerald green leather seats, I still remember it with fondness. Like Gaston in Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast”, it was “roughly the size of a barge” and, due to its pale yellow exterior, was affectionately dubbed “The Banana Boat.” Built like a tank, I could have been in a head on collision with a freight train and expected to have (at very least) come out as a reasonably intact corpse.

The one real detracting feature was the gas mileage. My beautiful green machine got a whopping 8 miles to the gallon. The expense was offset by the fact that my dad was able to fix nearly everything that went wrong with the vehicle (with the noted exception of the headlights which, for some reason we were never able to identify, would blink on and off whenever my mother or I drove the car, but behaved quite normally whenever Dad was behind the wheel). It was a teenager’s paradise… until gas prices began to rise.

I laugh today when I consider the major panic which overtook me when the sign at the pump first informed me that my fuel would run $1.769 a gallon. I nearly hyperventilated as I calculated the cost of filling the tank in proportion to the salary I was making. The numbers were not positive. In fact, when all was said and done, I was working simply for the privilege of paying for my health insurance… and being able to drive myself to and from the job which covered that expense. Something needed to happen and it needed to happen fast.

I went home and checked my bank account. The sum total of my savings amounted to $2,200. It wasn’t much. Years earlier, I had been convicted that God wanted me to live debt free (a conviction which I still hold quite deeply). Keeping my promise to ensure that I owed, “nothing to anyone except to love one another” (Romans 13:8) was going to require some financial wrangling. And I wasn’t sure if God would replicate His loaves and fishes miracle with my nickels and dimes.

To be honest, my experience wasn’t a unique one. Most of us have encountered some type of financial need at some point in our life. At times like these, when the money is short and the need is great, it can be tempting to shift our focus away from the Provider and onto the provision. The funding we lack takes center stage while the Giver of all good things slips to the sidelines.

Perhaps it is for this reason that Jesus warned his disciples, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” (Matthew 6:24 NASB) And few things bring this caution to the forefront quite as vividly as the recognition that money (or at least a little bit of it) still plays a vital role in the life of the Believer.

While we may not bow before mounds of gold coins on a regular basis (or at all), we can be certain that our earthly boss is far from being the only “contender for the throne” to be found in the workplace. During times of perceived famine, our salary can also put up a good fight. (To be continued…)

Who’s Your Boss? Part I

24 Jan

At the age of seventeen, I found myself working for a moderately sized retail outlet that employed one manager and five assistant managers.  While each manager had their own department, they all had equal authority over all of the staff and this loose structure led to a number of humorous, experiences, one of which particularly stands out in my mind.

It all began one warm afternoon when, while sorting through pallets of new shipments, we stumbled across several boxes of garden clogs.  (You know, those clunky rubber shoes designed to protect your feet while allowing dirt and water to get between your toes for the complete gardening experience?)  My manager took one look at the shipment and told me to take it to the clothing department where all of the footwear was neatly on display.

Obediently, I picked up the armload of cardboard containers and trekked across the store to the disused returns counter that marked the edge of what I had come to view as enemy territory.  I was just about to set the boxes down when the clothing manager spotted me informed me that “garden” clogs belonged in the “garden” department and immediately ordered me to return them to their proper location.

Politely, I readjusted the boxes and wandered across one of the center aisles, returning the shipment to my own department.  I hadn’t even managed to set them down when my manager appeared and voiced her concern that I hadn’t followed through on her orders.  I readily explained that the clothing manager didn’t feel that they belonged in her department and patiently awaited the impending directive.  “Take them back to the clothing department.  Now.”

So off I went.  When the clothing manager saw me, she curtly repeated her edict that the boxes were not to be deposited anywhere within her realm.  I had turned on my heels before she even finished her sentence and was off and running towards my own, safe section of the store.  But upon returning to my own department, I was informed once more that the footwear was to be left in the clothing department.  For the next hour, I wandered back and forth between the two departments toting the boxes and relaying the increasingly more warlike messages which the two managers wished for me to deliver.

While at first I was irritated by the waste of time, it did serve to illustrate a valuable Biblical principle which is important to us even before we hop into our cars, onto our bicycles, or head down the sidewalk to our place of employment each day: “No one can serve two masters.”  (Matthew 6:24a)  I’m not talking about showing up at Walmart when your paycheck is coming from the Home Depot, but rather the danger involved in attempting to split your service between God and well, everyone and everything else that is vying for your attention… including your boss.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be examining what it means to serve God in the workplace. We’ll take a look at some helpful Biblical advice on striking the balance necessary to retain our relationship with the Master while successfully satisfying our boss’ demands. And we’ll explore some of our options for those times when it isn’t possible to do both. Stay tuned and, as always, feel free to share your own thoughts in the comment box below!

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