On Stewardship and the Orthodox Life - Part 113: Being Contentious (9/25/16)
“Reject a divisive man after a first and second admonition.” (Titus 3: 10 RSV)
Can a contentious person be a good steward in the church? Well, let's first look at the meaning of contentious. The Concise Oxford American Dictionary defines it as, “causing or likely to cause an argument, given to arguing or provoking an argument.” Such a person would seem therefore to have little knowledge of obedience or humility. St. Silouan The Anthonite instructs us, as related in the book, Remember Thy First Love, to be obedient without needless questioning. He goes on to say that obedience is an expression of love for our brothers which God has bonded us.
St. Silouan also states, “that obedience releases us from the need to trust in our own thinking, opinions, and judgment and gives us the freedom to embrace the will of God.” Obedience is the cornerstone of Christian life.
Hand-in-hand with obedience is humility. St. Silouan again comments, “If we hold fast to our self-esteem and are pleased with ourselves, with our lives, with our achievements, we cannot receive the word God wants us to hear. If you don't start listening, God will stop talking.”
Our beloved Bishop Gregory and our priest who serve Him provide direction and understanding and lead us to salvation. If we do not listen and do, being obedient, our salvation is in jeopardy. If our salvation is in jeopardy because we are contentious, non-obedient and lack humility, how can we be good stewards? Obedience and humility are two of the great virtues we are encouraged to practice.
A good steward is not contentious but obedient to God, his Bishop and priests, lovingly accepts those gifts given to him and returns them to God with joy and increase. A good steward does not argue, cause strife and reject the help of the church but accepts its healing through the Holy Spirit, our Bishop and our priest. Anything less is not acceptable.
St. Paul states in 1 Corinthians 11:16, “If anyone is disposed to being contentious, we recognize no other practice, nor do the churches of God.” Paul talks about the Church not being a place to contend or argue, or have the last word, but rather the Church teaches obedience. He writes to the Hebrews, Chapter 13:17, “Obey your leaders and submit to them.” A humble and obedient attitude gives us access to all the treasures of the church.
This weekly series of brief thoughts on stewardship and Orthodox life is brought to you by your Diocesan Stewardship Commission.
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