Summary: A man is not the sum of what he gathers, it is not abou what you have but who you know. Do you know the one that provides ALL things?
TOYS OR JOYS?
(All my sermons use illustrations found at www.sermoncentral.com and all scripture is NIV unless otherwise noted.)
So many times I have heard people say “the one that dies with the most toys wins” as if gathering material possessions here on earth is what life is all about. There are people in our world that feel the more material possessions they have, the more money they make, the more successful they are. BUT, God says that money and materials possessions mean nothing to Him. Of course this makes sense, seeing He alone is the provider of all things we gather unto ourselves, He has more money and owns everything including our lives and, what we “HAVE” here on earth means nothing to Him at all.
I read of a Pastor that said this: Recently I was asked this question: “What have you sacrificed lately in light of all the sorrow, desolation and bloodshed that have gripped the world?” It was a challenge from a friend of mine who regularly gives to charitable causes and has always considered it his personal task to make others aware of opportunities to do and to give to others. I cited the gifts that I make possible through my church. I also cited a check that I recently sent to a charity that focuses on rebuilding houses that have been destroyed in natural disasters. These, along with my regular gifts to the Salvation Army, the Red Cross and several pro-life organizations, I felt well-qualified me as one who “sacrifices.”
Then he posed this question: “What did these gifts replace in your life?” I thought for a moment and answered, “I don’t know. They probably haven’t really replaced anything.” “Then,” he frowned, “you have not sacrificed at all. While you have truly given, you have not sacrificed.”
During his reign, King Frederick William III of Prussia found himself in trouble. Wars had been costly, and in trying to build the nation, he was seriously short of finances. He couldn’t disappoint his people, and to capitulate to the enemy was unthinkable. After careful reflection, he decided to ask the women of Prussia to bring their jewelry of gold and silver to be melted down for their country. For each ornament received, he determined to exchange a decoration of bronze or iron as a symbol of his gratitude. Each decoration would be inscribed, “I gave gold for iron, 18l3.” The response was overwhelming. Even more important, these women prized their gifts from the king more highly than their former jewelry. The reason, of course, is clear. The decorations were proof that they had sacrificed for their king. Indeed, it became unfashionable to wear jewelry, and thus was established the Order of the Iron Cross. Members wore no ornaments except a cross of iron for all to see. (Lynn Jost)
What differentiates sacrifice? To sacrifice means to give of something that costs the giver in terms of self, time or money. A sacrifice costs. It is more than a token effort or a mere gift. A sacrifice means something in terms of not only how it affects the receiver, but how it affects the giver. A willingness to give is laudable. But, when that willingness stops short of pain, it demonstrates a lack of commitment to the God who blesses us with all things in the first place. A willingness to exchange things in our lives, riches for poverty, our time for someone else’s, our convenience for an inconvenience, is the true meaning of Christian sacrifice. It is our Order of the Cross--the cross of Jesus Christ.
Jesus said this:
Luke 12:13-26 Someone in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me." 14 Jesus replied, "Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?" 15 Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." 16 And he told them this parable: "The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. 17 He thought to himself, 'What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.' 18 "Then he said, 'This is what I'll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I'll say to myself, "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry." ' 20 "But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?' 21 "This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God." 22 Then Jesus said to his disciples: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?