On Stewardship and the Orthodox Life - Part 49: Yours of Your Own

"But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from thee, and of thy own have we given thee.” (1 Chronicles 29:14 RSV)

 It had been King David’s lifelong dream to build a permanent dwelling-place for God: a temple rather than a temporary, movable tent. How David felt about this dream can be clearly seen in Psalm 131: “Remember David, O Lord, and all his meekness. How he swore to the Lord, and vowed to the God of Jacob: ‘I shall not enter my dwelling, I shall not recline on my bed, I shall not close my eyes in sleep, nor my eyelids for dozing, nor give any rest to my temples, until I find a place for the Lord…’”(Psalm 131:1-5).  

When the time came for King David to pass his kingship along to his son, Solomon, David gathered all the people. He spoke to them about his dream to build a temple to the Lord. He left this task to Solomon. But, before King David did so, he announced that he would be the first to give of his great riches for the building of this temple. He then called on all the people: “Who then will offer willingly, consecrating himself today to the Lord?” (1 Chronicles 29:6 RSV)

The people responded with gift after gift – large gift after large gift. “Then the people rejoiced because these had given willingly, for with a whole heart they had offered freely to the LORD; David the king also rejoiced greatly.” (1 Chronicles 29:9 RSV)  And David prayed: “O LORD our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building thee a house for thy holy name comes from thy hand and is all thy own.” (1 Chronicles 29:14 RSV)

We are reminded each time we serve God in the Divine Liturgy, “We offer unto You, Yours of Your own, in behalf of all, and for all.” These words are based on David’s prayer. After all that had happened to King David, and all he had suffered in his lifetime, from the sins of adultery and murder to the loss of his own beloved son Absalom, David could still acknowledge “…all this… comes from thy hand and is all thy own.”

Some people say that God is hard on us by claiming for Himself what seems to belong to us. But we can bring God nothing that is not already His. Not only did God create everything that seems to be ours, He has also made all things new through the death and resurrection of Christ. It is not only useless to claim anything, money, talent, possessions, even or own lives, as our own – it is a lie: For all things come from thee, and of thy own have we given thee.

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

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