On Stewardship and the Orthodox Life - Part 127: Self-denial and the Holy Cross (1/1/17)
“Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.’” (Matthew 16:24-25 RSV)
No one can practice true stewardship without practicing true self-denial. Self-denial and the Holy Cross lie directly in the path of every Christian who is truly following Christ. “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Christian discipleship requires self-denial, self-sacrifice, even to laying down of life itself, if need be, for the sake of Him who took up His Cross and followed the will of His heavenly Father.
Orthodox Christians who see Christ on the Holy Cross are bound to withhold nothing that they possess, however dear it may be to them. If true Christians have any possession (including wealth, talents and time) that can be used to lead others to see and believe in the same Christ on the Holy Cross, they are to use those possessions freely for that purpose. In His infinite wisdom, our heavenly Father has so designed His creation that he has chosen to use human agents to be co-workers with Him in the salvation of all humankind.
In fact, all of the heavenly realm is actively working to extend the Truth of the Holy Cross to all peoples, nations and tongues. If those who profess their Orthodox Christianity, their Baptism and Chrismation, as being signs of a life given back to God for His purposes do not let their light shine before others (see Matthew 5:16 RSV) they are neglecting not only their own Orthodoxy, but are ignoring the clear words of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
How often do we find ourselves thinking about how much has been given for the extension of the Kingdom of God? Rather we should find ourselves thinking about how much has been held back from God’s treasury. We should often consider how much of that which has been held back has been used for the pleasures and desires that simply gratify our own wills. How often do we find ourselves thinking about all those who faithfully do the work of God, are good stewards, are the people we would surely like to be? And then we close our eyes to the resources, talents and time that we have that can enable us to be just like them.
We love being at home. We love relaxing. We love entertaining ourselves. Ponder, rather, the needs of others. Then act for them in going, giving, working.
This weekly series of brief thoughts on stewardship and Orthodox life is brought to you by your Diocesan Stewardship Commission.
Mark Your Calendar Now for the 2nd annual Stewardship Retreat will be held September 22-24, 2017.
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