Friday, January 3, 2014

Orthodox Christian Stewardship

Since the Church commemorates the Holy Prophet Malachi today, and since we are in the beginning of another new year, I thought I would remind you of your Orthodox Christian Stewardship. For those Orthodox Christians from a “traditionally Orthodox country” such as Greece, where the Church receives if even limited State support, Orthodox Christian Stewardship is a new or even unknown concept.

January is a time of all sorts of resolutions like joining a gym to improve our physical health, or getting out of debt. Some even make resolutions to be more organized and outgoing socially, but have you ever considered making a New Year’s Resolution to increase your Orthodox Christian Stewardship?

That’s right! Orthodox Christian Stewardship is worthy of a New Year’s Resolution. Unfortunately, many will routinely contribute their weekly Stewardship to their Church without any thought. Even “tithers” can fall into this trap, where giving to the Church has become a “rote exercise” rather than an intentional act of worship and gratitude to God.

But proper Orthodox Christian Stewardship requires faith and action. It is something that MUST be connected to our hearts, not just our pocketbooks. While most Orthodox Christians are very supportive of their local Church, nearly all fall short of the challenge God offers to us in Malachi.
Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this," Says the LORD of hosts, "If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it. (Malachi 3.10)
Have you tried God on His promise? You shouldn’t be confused, however, and think that God is challenging you to bring Him 10% of your worth SO THAT you will become rich. This is NOT the purpose of His challenge, though tragically many (including Orthodox Christians) preach this version of the “Prosperity Gospel.”

The intent of God’s challenge is for you to place your trust in God. Trust me on this; it requires great faith to bring 10% of your wealth to the Church, especially in our current economic uncertainties. Will we have enough food in our cupboard? Will we have enough money to pay the rent? These are series questions and require serious discussion and faith.
Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God. "But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. " Also I say to you, whoever confesses Me before men, him the Son of Man also will confess before the angels of God. "But he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God. "And anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but to him who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven. "Now when they bring you to the synagogues and magistrates and authorities, do not worry about how or what you should answer, or what you should say. "For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say." Then one from the crowd said to Him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me." But He said to him, "Man, who made Me a judge or an arbitrator over you?" And He said to them, "Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses." Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: "The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. "And he thought within himself, saying, 'What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?' "So he said, 'I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. 'And I will say to my soul, "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry." ' "But God said to him, 'Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?' "So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God." Then He said to His disciples, "Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on. "Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing. "Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds? "And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? "If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest? "Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. "If then God so clothes the grass, which today is in the field and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith? "And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. "For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. "But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you. (Luke 12.6-31)
Why not make a New Year’s Resolution to have enough faith in God to bring your TOTAL TITHE to God’s Church, not to become rich, but simply to honor God? The blessings God has promised will be well worth the risk.

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