On Stewardship and the Orthodox Life - Part 101. Theosis Without Stewardship
"For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, proud...ungrateful...lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God." (2 Tim. 3, 2-4 OSB)
Theosis, the continuous communion with God, comes to us by the grace of God. As Orthodox Christians, it should be what we all strive for – with all our heart, soul, and might. It is the reason God gave us life, to pursue Theosis.
If we believe the preceding, what price would you pay to be illumined and in communion with God?
The Saints serve as living proof that when you love God with all your heart, keep His commandments and pray unceasingly, God blesses all with a pure heart, an illumined nous, and continuous communion with Him. The Saints lived their lives for God and only for Him, giving all – not only their hearts, but their time, talents and wealth. We can read of Saints that exhibited the attainment of Illumination and Theosis; from these Saints a light was emitted from their faces – a light so bright that their faces were no longer visible, as was the case with St. Seraphim of Sarov.
Orthodox Stewardship as defined by the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese states that we should “receive God's gifts gratefully, cherishing and tending them in a responsible and accountable manner, sharing them in justice and love with all and returning with increase to the Lord.” The Saints gave everything to the Lord in thanksgiving; we are, however, only asked to share and return to the Lord a portion of what He has given us. This is but one example of God's generosity.
What occurs if we do not practice Stewardship? The most common reason for not practicing Stewardship is greed, one of the eight basic thoughts which leads to a darkening of the nous, sin, and passions as taught by St. John of Damascus and also Evagrius, a third-century anchorite monk. Not practicing stewardship may mean that we want to please ourselves, self-love, with material things more than we want to please God and obtain communion with Him. In other words, we are making a choice between God and self, with self the object of our choice. Unless we cleanse ourselves by sincere repentance and prayer, our nous will remain darkened, preventing communion with God. If we do not sincerely repent we, not God, place our salvation in jeopardy.
The path to salvation is before us! Living a life with Christ, of Stewardship as the Church directs, places us on the path to Illumination and Theosis. We should only seek that which leads to our eternal salvation. Give generously of your time, talent and resources, "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth...but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven." (Mathew 6:19-20, RSV). One cannot obtain Theosis without true Stewardship.
This weekly series of brief thoughts on stewardship and Orthodox life is brought to you by your Diocesan Stewardship Commission.
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