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“What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight,” Jesus said to the pharisees who loved money as they heard Jesus say, “You cannot serve both God and Money.”

What is serving a person beyond obeying what he commands you, when money, being an inanimate object and not a person, cannot issue commands as God can?  So it is unusual that Jesus puts God and money in the same sentence about serving one or the other.  Anyone can serve God or another person because the first action of service is to obey the command that is given… as both centurions of Capernaum testified, “For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me.  I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes.  I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

The obedience of their servants to their orders is the simple and superficial meaning of serving someone… so that you are a servant.  However, both those centurions themselves became servants of their sick servants respectively as the first in Matthew went personally to seek Jesus to heal his servant and the second in Luke sent a delegate of Jewish elders to entreat Jesus and then sent his friends to meet Jesus as He was on His way to heal the latter’s servant as well.  One wonders if the first centurion was the one who told the second, as Luke 7.3 recorded:  The centurion heard of Jesus… and whether it was the same centurion who told the second to send his friends to tell Jesus, “Lord, don’t trouble Yourself, for I do not deserve to have You come under my roof,” as the first had personally said the same thing to Jesus earlier.  Those two centurions in truth became servants of their servants when they went and sought Jesus out for the welfare and wellbeing of their sick servants.

True service, elect, is not limited to obeying the command.  True service is about looking after the welfare and the wellbeing of whom or what you value.  The centurions valued their servants and humbled themselves, troubled themselves, bothered themselves, put themselves out, as it were, to seek out Jesus.  As such, it is not who gives the command that determines who you are serving, but rather, it is whose wellbeing and welfare that you are protecting that truly defines whom you really serve.

The pharisees sneered at Jesus’ words because, as Luke wrote, they loved money… meaning, though they prided themselves as men of God, they were serving money out of their love of it.

How does one serve money when it cannot give a command?  When one looks after the welfare and wellbeing of money.  How does that happen?  Remember money is an inanimate manmade object that cannot give a command as the centurions could, and like all inanimate objects, they have to be cared for like a statue needs to be washed, bathed, scrubbed and protected, for it cannot do so to itself.  Money cannot protect itself; it cannot protect its own value or its own usefulness, but rather, relies on men to manipulate, legislate and delegate in order to protect its value and usefulness.

The most important action of human society that gives money its value is buying and selling.  As long as there are Canaanites (merchants) who would buy and sell, then money has a use as a means of artificial valuation and convenience of exchange that allows the action of buying and selling (commerce) to progress efficiently, far more efficiently than say barter, which is giving and receiving.

However, things are bought and sold only if they are a scarcity.  You will see people buying roses, but you will not see them buy the common dandelion or the weeds of the roadside.  The commercial trade that is built on lack is that which perpetuates the existence and value of money and as such, serves money.

In this light, serving God is not a matter of obeying His commands only, but rather, looking after His wellbeing and welfare.  A common mistake that is made by all is that God being God does not need us to look after His wellbeing and welfare.  After all, did He not say, “If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world is Mine, and all that is in it”? God may not need us to look after Him… however, the welfare of His Name that we are privileged to bear He still needs us to look after.

When the father of the demon-possessed boy said these words, “I begged Your disciples to drive it out, but they could not,” it was not the disciples’ reputation that was at stake, rather it was Jesus’ reputation and Name, for after all they were His disciples.  The failure of the twelve as late in the day as Jericho to open the eyes of the four blind men of Jericho, so that they did not have to shout out to Jesus for mercy, did little to enhance Jesus’ reputation further as compared to Jesus having disciples who could do what He has been doing.

Jesus may have commended the centurions for their faith.  However, what He did not point out, as if to hide it so that though seeing, you do not see, is the way those two men served their servants.  When you see it, you would realise Jesus was not commending them for their belief, but rather, for their faith, that is, their loyalty and solidarity.  A faithfulness that is not full of belief and doubtless, but rather, a faithfulness that is better to describe or ascribe as loyalty and steadfastness where the master is willing to serve the servant.  Those two centurions took a page right out of Jesus’ own life – the Master who serves His servants.  That is the true faith that Jesus was commending, not the name it and claim it faith of the Balaamites who sell you their lies and fantasies as well as inaccuracies to beguile you into a continued love affair with money.  If giving money was a sign of service to God, then as the song says, “only the rich would live and the poor would die” in God’s kingdom.

When Barnabas sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet, he inadvertently started a chain reaction that resulted in the death of Ananias and Sapphira.  For by following his example, Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property, and we know the rest of the story.  It is not as if Barnabas gave the field for the apostles to plant and harvest or build a building on, but he brought to the apostles’ feet the one idol that Jesus said we are not to serve, that is, we are not to look after its welfare and wellbeing.  He did not say we are not to use it, just not serve it.

There are many who know how to use what they should serve or rather, do not serve what they use.  You need look no further than those who use the Name of the Lord to enrich themselves and oppress others.  They are using the Name of God instead of serving the Name of God.  The prostitute and her daughters have specialised in it as they use the Name of the Lord and the excuse to preach the gospel – their perverted, powerless gospel, which has no news – to plunder the wealth and riches of nations… even the very bodies and souls of their women and men.  How different the outcome for Ananias and Sapphira had Barnabas not sold the field but gave the field to the apostles.  He could have put the field at their feet… all he had to do was bring them to the field and have them walk on it.

So your concern, elect, and it is not about not serving money, even though that is the point of the lesson, learning not to serve money is for the trainees… now, elect, your concern is about knowing what God values.  God values those who are loyal to Him… like the centurions valued those servants of theirs so much so that they served them by seeking Jesus out.  God values service because He is the God who came to serve even though He is King.  He values those who know how to not only obey commands, but to look after the welfare of their Master and their fellow servants.

How do you serve a fellow servant when he cannot give you an order that you may obey?  You serve him when you look after his welfare and his wellbeing… when you give to him that which is precious to you – your time, your love, your knowledge, your wisdom – give, which means NO MONEY or BARTERING, no trading.  Trading is giving something to receive something in return.  Giving is to serve without an expectation of return.

The centurions were not expecting a return from their servants, for they did not allow Jesus to come to their house to lay hands on their servants.  Otherwise the servants would have realised that it was their masters who brought Jesus and so would have given thanks to their masters… there would have been a giving and a receiving.  However, the sufficiency of Jesus’ words would mean that those servants would never have known it was their masters’ faith that healed them, but arising from their sick bed, they would have just thought they had recovered because of their own bodies’ health.  Now that is true giving… even though you might say the centurions received more service from their healed servants, yes, but their servants were not able to truly thank them.

Indeed, it is very difficult to give without receiving something back for it, which is why Jesus said, “But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret.” You may realise now that it is almost impossible for your right hand not to know what your left hand is doing because your mind knows what they are doing.

It is when you serve God not because He commanded you, but because you are mindful of His welfare and His wellbeing even though He is God and has no need of your care, that you have learnt to serve Him in a way that God values.  What do men value?  A fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work.  What does God value?  A man who goes two miles when told to go one… to do that which he is supposed to do and then to do even more as if that is what he is supposed to do.  Hence He taught us, “So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’ “

How does it serve God for us to live a prosperous Christian life and die peacefully to be ushered into His presence in glory in Heaven whilst the devil still roams the Earth freely?  Does it serve God for us to sacrifice ourselves on the altar so that we may be greeted in Heaven and be fit for the first resurrection?  No, for Satan still roams free and Jesus cannot return.

It serves God best when we purpose and succeed to remain alive, fulfil the scriptures and dress ourselves to greet Him on His arrival as servants who are awaiting for their Master’s return, having not only cleaned the house and enriched Him with the wealth He has entrusted us with, but dressed appropriately not in rags and dirty clothes, but in finery that He did not leave us when He left to be crowned King.  Now that would give the neighbours something to talk about!

As for not serving money, learn to use money, elect, as religious men use God.  That is the beginning of your lesson of how not to serve money.

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