No matter who we are, we “Gotta Serve Somebody,”1 concludes Bob Dylan in his tune of this title. His refrain emphasizes time and again:
“Well it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.”2
The legendary songwriter is onto something. In fact, Jesus says we will serve a master—be it God or money—and that we must choose only one. “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”3 So, let’s consider our dilemma: money as our life’s master, or God as the Lord of life.
Money perches precariously “where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal,”4 but God guarantees us an inheritance,5 one that “can never perish, spoil or fade … kept in heaven for you.”6 Wealth conditions our value on a cold calculation of net worth, but God proclaims our pricelessness through the cost of our redemption: “not with perishable things such as silver or gold … but with the precious blood of Christ.”7 Wealth tantalizes the soul through sips of success, but never in quenching quantities, for “Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income”8; but Jesus says, “whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again … [It] will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”9 Of money it is said, “You can’t take it with you”—it drops us off at death’s door empty-handed and barren-souled; but Jesus counsels us to invest ourselves into what lies beyond our retirement years: “Store up for yourselves treasures in in heaven,”10 which surely awaits all who serve Him.
We could contrast these two masters in many ways and for a long time, exposing one and revealing the other, but here is the rich irony of it all: Money robs those who serve it. It would rob us of life itself, consuming our existence today with worries over what we will consume tomorrow. This is not freedom, and we need not squander our days serving the money god who oppresses us under a scepter of fear. Instead, Jesus points to the beauty of creation as the reflection of both the heart of the eternal God and the greater glory to which He raises His people. “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?… Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”11
When money is our master, we “gotta” serve it, and we do so in fear. God is the glorious One we “get to” serve, and it is a privilege, it is a joy. For in Him is freedom from the fear of tomorrow; in Him is life itself, today.
Father, I choose to trust you today. I choose to serve you today. I choose not to worry about tomorrow, for you know what I need and you will be my Master then, too. Amen.
1 Dylan, Bob. Gotta Serve Somebody. Columbia Records, 1979.
2 Dylan. Gotta Serve Somebody.
3 Matthew 6:24 (ESV)
4 Matthew 6:19 (ESV)
5 Ephesians 1:14
6 1 Peter 1:4
7 1 Peter 1:18, 19
8 Ecclesiastes 5:10
9 John 4:14
10 Matthew 6:20 (ESV)
11 Matthew 6:28b-30, 33 (ESV)