Original Posting At https://jacobjuncker.wordpress.com/2018/03/24/our-commitment-gifts-service/
These thoughts started a conversation that was had at Lee Memorial United Methodist Church on Sunday, March 11, 2018. The discussion was based upon a reading from Matthew 6:19-24.
I have developed a handout to accompany this teaching and, hopefully, further the discussion in your home or small group. You can download it here. Note: the questions on this handout are often different from the questions raised in the discussion.
What is a $20 bill worth? a $100 bill?
I was taught the value of money at a very early age. I was probably about 13, or 14, when I started working regularly at the family business. I would custodial jobs—sweep the floor, mow the lawn and weed-eat the front ditch, and spend hours on the wash rack power-washing agricultural equipment. 20 years ago, $20 was worth about the same as the 3 hours or so it would take me to weed-eat the ditch in front of the dealership.
I was taught to assign value and worth by the amount of work that I had to put into it. So as a teenager, I knew that a buying a tank of gas, going to the movies, or on a date would mean that I would have to work a certain number of hours. There was a sort of cost analysis routine that was burned into my psyche. If I choose to do or purchase this, then I will have to work this much. Is it worth it to me?
How do you figure out how much something is worth?
Worth is subjective. It is personal. It is based upon our abilities, and our feelings. What I may find to be of great worth, may not be all that worthy to someone else.
Jesus sat down one day across from the offering box in the temple
and observed how the crowd gave their money. Many rich people were throwing in lots of money. One poor widow came forward and put in two small copper coins worth a penny. Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I assure you that this poor widow has put in more than everyone who’s been putting money in the treasury. All of them are giving out of their spare change. But she from her hopeless poverty has given everything she had, even what she needed to live one. (Mark 12:41b-44, Common English Bible)
The two copper coins the widow gave were of more worth than all the spare change the wealthy threw into the box because it was all she had left to live on.
Why might the poor widow have found God and the temple to be worthy of her two copper coins (all she had left to live on) while the rich only found God and the temple worthy of spare change?
God gave everything to demonstrate God’s love to us. God gave the gift of Godself—in the flesh—to show us the way to love and life. And when we turned away, when we didn’t understand, when we turned our backs, and shouted “Crucify him!” God continued to give. God didn’t turn away. God faced death, descended to hell, and was resurrected that we might know the depths to which God would go to save us from ourselves and save the world.
God is worthy of all that we have and are because God gave all that God is (from beginning to end—alpha and omega) to show us a better way to live now and into eternity if only we would find Christ worthy of our lives and the ways of Christ worthwhile.
The choice is not easy. A certain ruler, a man of status, came to Jesus and asked, “What must I do to obtain eternal life?” Jesus replied, “Why do you call me good?” Surely if the man thought Jesus was good and worthy, he would be following him. Jesus continued,
You know the commandments: Don’t commit adultery. Don’t murder. Don’t steal. Don’t give false testimony. Honor your father and mother.”
21 Then the ruler said, “I’ve kept all of these things since I was a boy.”
22 When Jesus heard this, he said, “There’s one more thing. Sell everything you own and distribute the money to the poor. Then you will have treasure in heaven. And come, follow me.” 23 When he heard these words, the man became sad because he was extremely rich. (Luke 18:20-23, Common English Bible)
Ultimately, the man did not think that the way of Christ was more worthwhile than the things his wealth could provide.
In the United Methodist Church, members commit to upholding the work of Christ through the Church by faithfully participating in ministry by their gifts and service. I think this goes way beyond how much money one gives or how many hours one volunteers. There are plenty of examples of people who may give a lot of money and volunteer tons of time, but who do not ultimately find the way of Christ worthy or worthwhile. For them, the money they give is nothing but spare change and spare time.
What God seeks through our giving and service is for us to find God worthy of our full devotion and the way of Christ worthwhile that we might sacrificially give of our time, talent, and resources.
How do you spend your time, talent, and resources? Do you truly find God worthy and the way of Christ worthwhile? Worthwhile enough that you would give all you have (time, talent, and resources)? Or is it all only worth your spare change and time?
Siblings in Christ, to know God and to walk in the way of Christ is worth it all. May our lives prove it. Amen? And, amen!
Other Thoughts and Questions:
- There is no standard concept of worth. We each determine worth based upon our understanding of what we have to give.
- What is salvation worth?
- We are constantly, consciously or not, making decisions of worthiness. And, the way many of us will demonstrate the worth of something is through the giving of our time and resources. A very wise person once said (I can’t remember who), give me your pocket-book and I will tell you what you really find important, what you really believe in.
- Things worth doing are worth doing right—whole-heartedly, with all you have and are.