For these reasons we must decline to regard the Gospel as a message of world-denial.
On the other hand, Jesus speaks of three enemies, and the watchword which he gives in dealing with them is not that we are to flee them; rather, he commands us to annihilate them. These three enemies are mammon, care, and selfishness. Observe that here there is no question of flight or denial, but of a battle which is to be fought until the enemy is annihilated; the forces of darkness are to be overthrown. By mammon he understands money and worldly goods in the widest sense of the word, worldly goods which try to gain the mastery over us, and make us tyrants over others; for money is “compressed force.” Jesus speaks of this enemy as if it were a person, as if it were a knight in armour, or a king; nay, as if it were the devil himself. It is at this enemy that the saying, “Ye cannot serve two masters,” is aimed. Wherever anything belonging to the domain of mammon is of such value to a man that he sets his heart upon it, that he trembles at the thought of losing it, that he is no longer willing to give it up, such a man is already in bondage. Hence, when the Christian feels that this danger confronts him, he is not to treat with the enemy, but to fight, and not fight only but also destroy the mammon. Were Christ to preach among us to-day, he would certainly not talk in general terms, and say to everyone, “give away everything you have”; but there are thousands among us to whom he would so speak, and that there is scarcely anyone who feels compelled to apply these sayings of the Gospel to himself is a fact that ought to make us suspicious.
The second enemy is care. At first sight it may surprise us that Jesus should describe care as so terrible a foe. He ranks it with “heathenism.” It is true that in the Lord’s Prayer he also taught men to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread”; but a confident request of this kind he does not call care. The care which he means is that which makes us timorous slaves of the day and of material things; the care through which bit by bit we fall a prey to the world. Care is to him an outrage on God, who preserves the very sparrows on the housetop; it destroys the fundamental relation with the Father in heaven, the childlike trust, and thus ruins our inmost soul. This is also a point in regard to which, as in respect to mammon, we must confess that we do not feel deeply and strongly enough to recognise the full truth of Jesus’ message. But the question is, Who is right—he with the inexorable “Take no thought,” or we with our debilitating fears? We, too, in a measure feel that a man is not really free, strong, and invincible, until he has put aside all his cares and cast them upon God. How much we could accomplish and how strong we should be, if we did not fret.