Matt. 6:24 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.
Many of us living in the west may firmly state that we are not idol worshippers like those of the east. We do not bow down to a man-made idol, nor do we have multiple gods like those of Athens (Acts 17).
In the Old Testament, we are familiar with a book called Deuteronomy. Deuteronomy means “second law” and it was given as a reminder for the Israelites not to forget the Law of God. It repeats many of the stipulations given in Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers and served as a second reminder for the Israelites to abstain from committing the same sins of their fathers, before they entered the promised land. One of their many sins was idolatry.
The case of the golden calf (Exod. 32:1 ffg.) was a prime example of this. When Moses went up into the mountain to receive the Law, they quickly made themselves a god in the form of a golden calf. They “offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play” (Exod. 32:6). In Deut. 4:15ffg., they are reminded not to indulge in idolatry of any kind.
Although this form of idolatry may be uncommon in our western societies, it may show itself in many other ways. The pursuit of anything other than the glory of God is idolatry. Anything and everything that takes precedence over seeking God and His righteousness is idolatry. Any denial of any attribute of God makes us guilty of idolatry. If we say God is love and fail to acknowledge His holy and just wrath, we are guilty of idolatry.
Matt. 6:24 records: “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” (Matt. 6:24). There is an absolute difference between God and mammon. Jesus is saying that you cannot make God one Master and mammon, which is a reference to worldly goods, the other master. Mammon cannot usurp the exclusiveness of God’s claim.
We must acknowledge that carving an idol for worship is one thing, living an idolatrous life is another. We may not be guilty of the former, but likely guilty of the latter. Either way, let us not be guilty of any of them and the best way to avoid this is to let the word of God dwell in us richly, so that every word, thought, and action is driven thereby in glory of the one true God.