Matthew 6:24 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Matthew 6:24, NIV: "No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money."

Matthew 6:24, ESV: "“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."

Matthew 6:24, KJV: "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon."

Matthew 6:24, NASB: "'No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth."

Matthew 6:24, NLT: "'No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money."

Matthew 6:24, CSB: ""No one can serve two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money."

What does Matthew 6:24 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

"But I want both." This is a common reaction when we're faced with a choice between two desirable things. It's also a natural response to this teaching from Jesus on money (Matthew 6:19–23), part of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1–2). Those committed to the Lord desire to store up treasure, or rewards in heaven. They desire to serve Him by making right choices out of sincere devotion. God-fearing people can also desire to build wealth in this world, to feel financially secure, to accumulate possessions and experiences that please them. This is human nature.

Jesus does not say here that it is wrong to want both service to God and material wealth. What He does say, in crystal-clear terms, is one cannot place ultimate priority on both at the same time. At some moments in life, one must choose which is more important. Christ's calling forces those who would follow Him into such choices.

Scripture puts this in the context of servanthood. It doesn't work for a servant to be co-owned by two independent masters—this is why such a thing isn't practiced. The servant can only prioritize one or the other. They might be "loyal," in a sense, to both. But separate masters will command the servant in different, competing directions. As a result, the servant will naturally grow to hate or despise one of the two, while growing to love and be devoted to the other.

Jesus is casting human beings as slaves either to God or money. He uses the Greek word mammōna, which comes from the Aramaic word for wealth. Those who surrender themselves to following Jesus become servants of God for life (Romans 6:17–18). Those who prioritize building wealth for themselves on earth surrender themselves as slaves to materialism. As slaves depend on their masters to provide everything that is needed, those devoted to money or to God also depend on their respective masters to provide for them. The demands of those two masters will always compete.

So, Jesus concludes, a person cannot serve both God and money. This does not mean that someone who serves God whole-heartedly will not have money or possessions. Jesus is not suggesting that Christians must be poor, or destitute, or flee from any kind of luxury. It doesn't mean that being a Christian is incompatible with being "rich." What He means is that a person sincerely serving God will not organize their lives around acquisition of wealth. Money, for a righteous person, is just another tool given by God to be used for His purposes.

Similarly, this does not mean someone who lives for money can never acknowledge or honor God, in any way. However, there can only be one "most important" thing in any person's life. The materialistic person who honors God only does so in the margins or for false motives. They live out their days in the moral darkness Jesus described in the previous verses.