From the Woord
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 mammon. 25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?
Matthew 6:24–25, RSV
Mammon means goods or riches, and such goods as one does not need, but holds as a treasure, and it is gold and possessions that one deposits as stock and storage provisions. This Christians do not do, they gather no treasures; but they ask God for their daily bread. Others, however, are not satisfied with this, they gather a great store upon which they think they can depend; in case our God should die to-day or to-morrow, they would be able to keep themselves.
To have money and possessions is not forbidden, as we cannot get along without them. Abraham, Lot, David, Solomon and others had great possessions and much gold; and at present there are many wealthy persons who are pious, in spite of their riches. But it is one thing to have possessions and another to serve them; to have mammon and to make a god of it. Job also was wealthy, he had great possessions and was more powerful than all who lived in the East; yet he says: “If I have made gold my hope, and said to the fine gold, Thou art my confidence; have I rejoiced because my wealth was great, and because my hand had gotten much?”
Whoever possesses riches is lord of the riches. Whoever serves them, is their slave and does not possess them, but they possess him; for he dare not make use of them when he desires, and cannot serve others with them; yea, he is not bold enough to dare to touch them. But if he is lord over his riches, they serve him, and he does not serve them; then he dare use them and casts his care only upon God; he aids the poor with his wealth and gives to those who have nothing. We see here and there many pious poor people existing only for the purpose that the wealthy may help and serve them with their riches.
The sum of it all is, that God cannot allow us to have another Lord besides himself. He is a jealous God and cannot suffer us to serve him and his enemy. It is his will that we serve not gold and riches, and that we be not overanxious for our life; but that we labor and commend our anxiety to him.
Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 343–44.