Remember the show, “To Tell the Truth?” There would be one person who did something strange or different perhaps for a living while two others would try to pretend to be that person. The object was to try and fool the panel of stars and the audience. Sometimes the person would be something strange like a “professional nose picker.” At the end the real person would stand up.
As I thought about this passage from Matthew 6:24, I thought about loving one master and hating another. And I thought about some alcoholics that I know both practicing and recovered. I thought about the effect that addictions have upon people. They end of hating this “master” because they are enslaved and can’t get out. Usually end up hating themselves and everyone around them.
Jesus talks about the master of Mammon. I like the word “mammon” as a translation rather than money. For mammon is more than just money. It is greed. It is desire. In fact, the connotation is that this greed for money goes beyond just money but includes the power and privilege. It gives us the sense that this mammon is almost alive. That this particular sin because alive and begins to devour us. Paul uses the same type of imagery. Thus the darkness within us because exceedingly great! Just a little more. Gambling has that affect. Deal or No Deal is a great example. The show is about gambling. How far can you push it and what is the most that you can walk away with.
Runaway desires. Tithing and fasting are ways to work against these desires. To train them. Tame them! Tithing, fasting, and even baptism act out a different reality. A new reality of God’s Kingdom. Baptism is a symbolic way to act out the new reality of being a follower of Jesus--that God is now the Lord and King of our lives not mammon. By being baptized we align our lives toward the Kingdom life and Kingdom values, which are opposed to the values of mammon. The memory of one’s baptism (one Lord, one baptism) can then become a marker to "tame" our struggles with rampant materialism. It can become a sort of litmus test.
All these actions are revealing a change of masters.
Alcoholics know that one of the most effective way to maintain sobriety and recovery is to tell on their disease. Take ownership of their difficulties, their character defects, their sins. To tell the truth.
To Tell the Truth
• On our masters
Who are your masters? Jesus says we can only have one. Anything but God will consume you. Job, business (e-myth), health care system, money, shopping, gambling, drugs (prescription and illegal). Tell on the truth. This is what I struggle with.
• On ourselves
This is me. I’m not perfect. This is who I want to be. In terms of the specifics of the passage, admitting that I am not as generous as I should be. There can be only one.
In one of readings for today from Luke 12:13-21, Jesus is first asked to make a judgment. It is a cry for justice. Tell the story.
Generosity towards others is generosity towards God.
As much as some of us struggle to please two masters and we try, we cannot. “So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich towards God.”
Col. 3 talks about putting to death things that want to rule us and as I translate can become or are our masters: fornication, impurity, evil desires, greed, anger wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth, lying. Put on these clothes: compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, forgiveness, forbearance, love, gratitude.
How? Daily examination. Teaching others. Admonish which means to encourage while gently correcting. Being thankful not condemnation. To tell the truth of first ourselves. Confession.
Van Gogh. The use of yellow in his later paintings were a sign of hope: of starting over with a new master. We can start over with a new master. We all need that hope. We need that assurance that we can start over.
This is what worship is about. A new start. To a new creation. To a new week. To a new life. No matter who or what is your old master: stress at work, conflict with a boss, conflict with a family member, divorce and struggling to glue pieces back together, overwhelming bills maybe because of overspending, illness that never seems to end, the joys and trials of raising children, death of a friend or family member, houses and cars and other stuffs that “never end,” a family member that is in the throes of addiction. To tell the truth is to say I don’t have the answers so I resolve to start afresh in trusting God. Some of us constantly need that hope that I can start again today and that these trials and such will not last forever (even when we can see no end in sight). God can.