These words from Jesus are a fitting conclusion to Paul’s conversion story. The simple assertion that no one can serve two masters summarizes the change that occurred within the apostle’s life. Prior to meeting the risen Lord, Saul gives his primary allegiance to putting an end to Christ’s church. Afterwards, Paul becomes the church’s foremost advocate for the gospel. To become the latter, he had to let go of the former. He could not serve the church’s mission in the world while trying to destroy it at the same time!
Paul’s life remains a spot-on illustration of this teaching of Jesus. To our detriment, we imagine that we can serve many masters while remaining primarily faithful to Jesus. We serve lots of different causes on any given day. How much of my life is driven by financial concerns as opposed to a desire to extend God’s kingdom? How often do I seek a reward while doing good for others? Am I aware of the times I attempt to do something good for all the wrong reasons? We may not bow the knee to someone or something else, but we often try to serve other purposes while we attempt to serve Jesus.
To be honest, I don’t think any one of us ever becomes completely free from self-interest in this lifetime. Our motives are never entirely pure. Nevertheless, fostering the continual transformation that disciples need requires us to periodically ask ourselves, “Who’s being served here?”
What do I need to let go of today to focus more fully on serving Jesus? Who or what captures most of my attention and energy on any given day?
Wise and merciful Lord, sift my soul that I may serve you wholeheartedly. Amen.