Voluntary Sacrificial Giving

How much is a mother worth these days? According to a new survey by Salary.com, a division of human resources consultant Kenexa, at commercial rates, moms should be receiving £73,000 per year for their work. In the tenth annual ‘Mom Salary Survey’, researchers examined 6,616 mothers and put a value their work by breaking down motherly duties into 10 separate titles: These were Day Care Teacher, CEO, Psychologist, Cook, Housekeeper, Laundry Machine Operator, Computer Operator, Facilities Manager, Janitor and Taxi Driver. In 2011 stay-at-home moms’ were estimated to be worth £73,000 (a base salary of £23,000 plus £50,000 in overtime).

Evilee Ebb, general manager of Salary.com said: “The breadth of Mom’s responsibilities is beyond what most workers could ever experience day-to-day. Imagine if you had to attract and retain a candidate to fill this role?” According to the survey, the typical stay-at-home mom works 97 hours a week, 13 hours as a day-care teacher; 4 hours as household CEO; 8 hours as a psychologist; 14 hours as a chef; 15 as a housekeeper; 7 hours doing laundry; 9 hours as a computer operator; 11 hours as a facilities manager; 8 hours as a janitor and 8 hours driving the family taxi. Fulfilling these 10 roles, working nearly a 100-hour work-week voluntarily, moms are surely the most valuable workers in the country. So, husbands and children, lets acknowledge the voluntary sacrificial giving of our mothers present today. Thank you!

These Sunday mornings leading up to Easter we have been considering how to fulfill our 2020 Vision. Today, appropriately, we are thinking about voluntary sacrificial giving.
Giving voluntarily, willingly, joyfully, freely, sacrificially.
I want us to see, that our attitude to money shapes not only our legacy but ultimately our destiny. In these verses from Matthew 6 before us today Jesus paints two portraits.  There are two alternative treasures: Matthew 6:19-21 (on earth and in heaven). There are two opposite spiritual conditions : Matthew 6:22-23 (light and darkness). There are two mutually exclusive masters : Matthew 6:24. (God and Money). Jesus wants us to choose well and enjoy a long life. Jesus wants us to be stress free and live at peace with ourselves. Jesus wants us to live in harmony with our God and with one another. To help us choose wisely he asks us three questions.

1. Where is your security? A Question of Treasure (6:19-21)

2. What is your ambition? A Question of Vision (6:22-23)

3. Who are you serving? A Question of Loyalty (6:24)

1. Where is your Security? A Question of Treasure

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)

Jesus is comparing the relative durability of two treasures. It should be easy to choose which to store up, he implies. Treasures on earth are temporary and therefore insecure. Treasures in heaven are permanent and therefore secure. Now please understand Jesus was not forbidding.

1.1 Private Property

There is no ban on possessions in themselves. Scripture no where forbids private property. (see Acts 5:4)

1.2 Insurance Policies

“Saving for a rainy day” is not forbidden either. Life assurance policies are simply a kind of saving by self imposed compulsion. Scripture praises the ant for storing in the summer the food it will need in the winter, (Proverbs 6:6). Paul declares the believer who makes no provision for his family is worse than an unbeliever (1 Timothy 5:8).

1.3 Material Blessing

Thirdly, we are not to despise, but rather appreciate the good things God gives us to enjoy. “Everything God has created is good” says Paul. (1 Timothy 4:3-4, 6:17).  So, Jesus does not have in mind possessions, making provision for the future, or enjoying the gifts of a good Creator. What is Jesus talking about?

1.4 Selfish Accumulation

Notice the text says, “do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth.”  Jesus is not saying forbidding sensible provision for the future, but being self-centred, greedy and wanting more. Jesus is not criticizing being provident but being covetous.

Earthly treasure, Jesus reminds us, grows rusty and moth-eaten, and thieves will break in to steal. (6:19). We may try and protect our treasures with insecticides, mouse traps, rustproof paint, padlocks, CCTV, burglar alarms and offshore bank accounts.
But even if these measures succeed we are still vulnerable to inflation, devaluation, taxation and disintegration. Even if our treasures carry life-time warranties and unconditional guarantees, or we have them buried with us, we cannot take them with us into eternity. If we want to have treasure in heaven – we have to send it on ahead. “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven” urges Jesus. What is this “treasure” in heaven? Jesus doesn’t explain, but it must have to do with earthly activity which lasts for eternity. There are many ways to make deposits in our heavenly bank account.

Deposit 1: Worship

Bill Hybel says, “One joy-filled investment plan is the commitment to be a regular and passionate worshiper. Worship is never wasteful in the eyes of God. Every act of private and corporate worship is a deposit in your heavenly bank account.” Would you buy a used car with no service history? Bit of a risk isn’t it?

While you might gamble with a car is it worth gambling with your life? Ignore the recommended service history and you are heading for trouble. A breakdown is never convenient. Your body is no different. The Bible tells us the correct service interval to ensure a long and healthy life is what? Every seven days.

If you want treasure in heaven, make the minimum weekly deposits. Worship is one way of making a deposit for eternity.

Deposit 2: Christ-like Character

”The Bible clearly teaches us that if we want to lay up treasure in heaven, one of the best investment strategies is personal character development.” The apostle Peter put it like this:

“Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” (1 Peter 3:8-9)

Christ-like character is the only thing we take with us to heaven, and those who come to know Jesus through us.

Deposit 3: Sacrificial Giving

Every time we sacrifice, we add treasure in heaven. The Bible says there is a record kept of our deeds.

“Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.”  “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.” (Revelation 14:13).

Ultimately acts of voluntary sacrificial giving, especially to believers, are made to our Saviour. Remember Jesus’ parable. “The King will reply, `I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:40). Voluntary sacrificial giving. If you want to see your treasure in heaven you need to send it on ahead.

As a church family, we depend entirely on the voluntary sacrificial giving of our church members to enable us to fulfill our vision.

In particular, we depend on the voluntary sacrificial giving of some church members more than others. If you consider your self a member of Christ Church and do not at present give regularly and sacrificially to the Lord’s work, I urge you to do so. We want you to share in fulfilling our vision and receive a blessing too. Where is your security? The Question of Treasure.

2. What is your Ambition? The Question of Vision

“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! (Matthew 6:22-23)

Jesus turns from the comparative durability of the two treasures to the comparative benefit derived from two conditions. For the way we view life will determine what we treasure.  The contrast here is now between someone who is blind and someone who can see. Almost everything we do depends on our ability to see. We need to see in order to walk or run, drive a car, cross a road, cook, paint. The eye illuminates what the body does through its hands and feet. In the Bible, the eye is frequently synonymous with the heart, our motivation, our desire. Just as the eye gives light to the body, so a Christ-centred heart throws light on everything we do. A money-focused life on the other hand leads only to fear and darkness, of introspective self-centredness. Howard Hughes who died a recluse once said, “I’m not a paranoid deranged millionaire. I’m a billionaire.” What do you want to be known for in this life? Greed or generosity?  A light or a warning to others?

Where is your security? The Question of Treasure.
What is your Ambition? The Question of Vision
It is all summed up in the last question.

3. Who are you Serving? The Question of Loyalty

“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)

Jesus now explains that behind the choice between two treasures (where we store them) and two visions (where we fix our eyes), there lies the still more basic choice between two masters (whom we are serving).  It is a choice between God and money, between the Creator himself and any object of our own creation. We cannot serve both. Notice Jesus repeats himself in verse 6:24. When I was a teenager, one summer, I had two part time jobs on the go at the same time. I worked in a fish and chip shop at night, and a garage as a petrol pump attendant during the day. Neither knew of the existence of the other. It worked out fine. Until that is, the August Bank Holiday Monday.

Both employers assumed I would work all day and neither was happy to learn I was working for someone else. I had to choose. It may be possible to work for two employers, but no slave can be the property of two owners. For single ownership and fully devoted service are the essence of the role.

A question of treasure, a question of vision, a question of loyalty. When the choice is seen for what it really is – a choice between Creator and creature, between worship and idolatry – between the intrinsic worth of knowing and being known by the Living God, and the intrinsic worthlessness of being known for our love of money, it seems inconceivable that anybody could make the wrong choice. Yet many do.  As Bob Dylan put it – “You’re going to have to serve somebody” In fact we already are. It’s simply a question of….

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  Lets pray.