"So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith." Galations 6:10 ESV
Several years ago our Sunday school class was working their way through one of the gospels - I'm not even sure which one. The Sunday we were studying the subject of alms stands out in my memory.
I wish I could remember it all better. We had visitors in class that Sunday, missionaries from another country. As we talked about alms, one of the visitors told how a church close to them gives acts of service as alms offerings. For example, someone had given one of their daughters guitar lessons, I think it was, as an alms offering.
This idea intrigued me. At that time I was on the food committee at church and felt completely out of my realm with the responsibility. I was doing it grudgingly and very dutifully and sitting there in class, it seemed like the Lord said quietly, "Being on the food committee could be an alms offering...."
I have no idea if that is taking things way out of context or not. We could talk about gifts and how we should exercise those. Maybe since food isn't my gift I should have just declined the job altogether so that someone who is gifted in that area could have the position. That's another conversation entirely.
My point is, giving out of duty - whether it's money or acts of service or time or possessions or whatever - tends to completely miss the spirit of how Jesus taught us to give. Looking at being on the food committee as an 'Alms Offering' or storing up treasure in Heaven, if you will, gave a different slant to the whole thing for me. It helped me to think more about what I was doing for God and others, instead of focusing on me and how much I wasn't cut out for the job.
I'm sure there are more areas of church life and community where I could gain a different perspective by looking at them as opportunities to store up treasure in Heaven, rather than a duty I have to fulfill. Already, it has made me stop and think twice when deciding about accepting a responsibility or agreeing to help with something.
Let me be quick to add, I don't think that means we have to accept every responsibility or request that comes our way. I don't have an easy answer for how you make those decisions. As a mom, there is a delicate balance between giving to my own household and to the 'household of faith'. Maybe the best advice I can give is to live with your ear pressed to the Spirit in this part of your life, as well. Ask God to show you; listen to your husband's advice. My husband often has a better view of the big picture than I do.
If you do decide to accept a responsibility or a request for help in your church, here is my husband's best advice to me: If you're going to say you will do it, do it with a cheerful attitude or than you might as well not do it at all.