It was the famous theologian named Mick Jagger who said: “I can’t get no satisfaction.” And he’s right. If you pause and listen to the words, you hear Jagger wrestling with the empty promises of the advertising industry:
When I’m watchin’ my TV
And that man comes on to tell me
How white my shirts can be
But he can’t be a man ’cause he doesn’t smoke
The same cigarrettes as me
The truest test of religion isn’t where you go on Sundays, but what you spend your time thinking about every other day of the week. What do you daydream about? What do you spend your time hoping for?
I know we’ve discussed this before, but in the fourth century a man named Augustine devised a helpful way to think about sin. The human heart, Augustine would say, is something of a pyramid. You will never flourish until God’s at the very top, and all your other loves occupy the spaces beneath. Sin happens when we place something else at the top of our pyramid. Sin, therefore, is ultimately a problem not just of what we do but what we love. Why do we lie? Because I love my reputation and want to exalt it in the eyes of others. Why do we covet? Because we love things more than our neighbor.
This is why Jesus tells us something universally true:
13 No servant 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.” (Luke 16:13)
Stop and consider: have you ever felt exhausted from serving “two masters?” Have you ever let your work schedule interfere with your relationship to family or to God? What were the consequences?
Most of us know from experience that money is a foolish master to serve. Why? Because you can’t get no satisfaction. Enough is never enough. So why chase it at all?
The answer, of course, lies in our hearts. This is a worship issue. If we worship ourselves, if we worship our reputations, then we will continually seek to construct a reputation and an identity through wealth, career, and fashion. I want to be known by what I do, what car I drive, what model smart phone I carry.
And of course this sort of thinking will eat you alive. Because even if you achieve these things, your cell phone becomes obsolete. Your car is surpassed by the latest model. Someone will be promoted over you. No one stays at the top of their game forever.
So if you’re exhausted by your schedule, it could be that you’re slaving for the master of career and reputation. It could be that your identity is connected to what you do. The gospel says that we find our identity not in performance—career or otherwise—but in the completed work of Jesus. That’s why serving career and self becomes a second master. And every other master will kill you. Only serving God leads to life.