On Stewardship and the Orthodox Life - Part 93: Self-Denial
“If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23 RSV)
No one can practice true stewardship without practicing genuine self-denial. Self-denial and the Holy Cross lie directly in the path of every Christian who is truly following Christ. Christian life, thus Christian stewardship, includes self-denial, self-sacrifice, even to the laying down of life itself, if need be, for the sake of Christ who has given His life for the life of the world.
We who view Christ on the Cross are bound by our obligation to God in return for that marvelous gift from God. We are to withhold nothing that we possess, no matter how dear it may be to us. If we possess anything that can help with the work of bringing another soul to the Church, no matter how rich or poor, we are to use such possessions for this purpose. Our Lord has employed us as co-workers with Him for the salvation of the world.
If we have professed to be truly Orthodox Christians, that we are truly saved by the Holy Cross and Resurrection of Christ, and then do not let that light shine before others, we are neglecting doing what the words of Christ explicitly command: “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
We often find ourselves arguing about how much we should give to the cause of Christ and His Church. Rather, let us consider how much we have kept back from His treasury and rather devoted to the indulgence of self in pleasure-seeking and self-gratification. We often find ourselves arguing about who is going to do the work around our parishes. Let us rather consider how we have closed our own eyes of understanding and not see our own duty to use the talents and abilities we have been given by God.
It is selfishness that keeps funds in our pockets. It is selfishness that keeps talents from being used in the vineyard of the Lord. After all, it was selfishness that caused Adam and Eve to sin in the Garden. They had all they could possibly want – except what they selfishly desired. That selfishness set the history of salvation through Christ into action. Now that our salvation is assured it is time to put away selfishness and practice self-denial: “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
This weekly series of brief thoughts on stewardship and Orthodox life is brought to you by your Diocesan Stewardship Commission.
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