On Stewardship and the Orthodox Life - Part 62: No Other Gods

"You shall not steal.” (Exodus 20:15 RSV)

The Ten Commandments are often the center of controversy in our American society. Due to their nature perceived of as “religious” rules, they are banned from public life: for example, they cannot be displayed in public buildings or on public grounds. This even in a society that proclaims religious freedom.

Such publication of the Ten Commandments in public places is outlawed because doing so (according to the lawyers) would “establish” religion and violate the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America. After all, we Americans are free to choose our own religion, or to have no religion at all, or even to speak badly of the religion of someone else without reprisal.

But what has been the effect of reducing religion to just another freedom we can choose to exercise or not? These Ten Commandments were given by God to Moses for the purpose of defining the relationship between God and His people (His people meaning everyone; for everyone is created in the image and likeness of God!). Those who choose to live with no relationship with God cannot know what is expected of them in living a moral life.

The result? Take as an example the widespread sin of theft. Theft is a result of greed. Greed originates in the basic human desire to care for one’s self. Self-care often turns into excessive self-centeredness or even self-indulgence. What began as desire for security can easily end up as greed. And greedy people never have enough. Then comes the plan to get more by any means possible. The end is theft. It shows up in many forms, from cheating on income tax returns to outright shoplifting to … .

St. Paul gives wise counsel to young Timothy: “There is great gain in godliness with contentment; for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world; but if we have food and clothing, with these we shall be content” (1 Timothy 6:6-8 RSV).

The Ten Commandments assist us in how to live a life of stewardship. “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well” (Matthew 6:31-33 RSV).

This weekly series of brief thoughts on stewardship and Orthodox life is brought to you by your Diocesan Stewardship Commission.

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