The Bible is an extreme book.
Let me rephrase that: for human beings with a selfish heart and a finite understanding, the Bible can be an extreme book. The Bible isn’t extreme for God; He wrote it! But because we interpret life through a corrupt and limited lens, the principles and commands in the Bible can come across as extreme.
“The Exclusivity of Treasure Pursuit” Principle
One principle that really highlights this extreme nature of the Bible is found in Matthew 6:24 – “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.” (ESV)
It doesn't need any summary, but let me condense what Jesus is saying: it's spiritually impossible to pursue the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of self simultaneously.
You and I don’t want to agree. We want to believe that our spiritual reality isn’t as extreme, or exclusive, as Jesus declares. There has to be a way, we argue, by which we simultaneously serve God and money.
Two Arguments Against Exclusivity
I want to highlight two reasons why we argue against “The Exclusivity of Treasure Pursuit” Principle:
1. We Love Our Pleasure
Let’s be honest: there are moments when we simply don’t care about the Kingdom of God. We choose the pursuit of personal pleasure over the pursuit of personal holiness.
When we feel the convicting grace of the Holy Spirit, we really do want to love the Lord, but we don’t want to be exclusive. In other words, we want glorify God on our own terms, where we get to define what we give up and what we keep.
If we incorrectly convince ourselves that it’s possible to serve both God and money, we’ll believe that we can love the Lord fully without sacrificing the earthly pleasures that we’re addicted to.
2. We Love Our Righteousness
I don’t think any informed Christian would claim they don’t need grace, but we all subtly believe that our good works are enough to please God.
That’s why “The Exclusivity of Treasure Pursuit” Principle is bad news for our inner Pharisee. Christ has raised the standard of righteousness to an unattainable extreme, and there’s no way we can please God without the grace of Jesus.
But if we incorrectly convince ourselves that it’s possible to serve two masters, we’ll believe that we have a chance at pleasing God with our independent righteousness. We’ll take pride in thinking that we don’t need grace as much as the next person.
Let me encourage you with the extreme nature of Gospel: you have no independent ability to choose God over money. If you were given the choice, without the assistance of grace, to serve one master, you would serve the money master 100% of the time.
Why should you be encouraged by that statistic? Because the God who is speaking these words is speaking these words on earth. He left Heaven and came to earth to die for addicted and self-righteous sinners. You and I can be completely hopeless in ourselves while we’re completely hopeful in Christ.
Only grace can make your heart choose the pleasure of God over the pleasure of the created world. Only grace can make you humble enough to admit your need for more grace.
Be encouraged: grace is available. He lives inside your heart at this moment.