On Stewardship and the Orthodox Life - Part 24: Proportional Giving

“Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How are we robbing thee?’ In your tithes and offerings.” (Malachi 3:8 RSV)

God’s plan for how we are to care for what He has entrusted to us is beautiful in its simplicity and equality. Every person may take hold of it in faith. It does not require a great depth of learning to understand and carry it out. When carried out in its simplicity, everyone may feel that each has a part in making possible the salvation of the world – and is that not the goal and object of every member of God’s Holy Orthodox Church?

Every man, woman and child can, through God’s simple plan, become a treasurer, a steward of that which is God’s in the first place. Each may become an agent to meet the demands of the work of the Church. There would be, through a faithful and thorough practice of proportional giving, no want of resources for the work of the Church both in the local parish, the Diocese and throughout the world. The treasury would be full, and the givers would not be left in poverty.

Proportional giving is the amount of time and money that each will offer to God through His Church. The exact amount of that giving will, of course, vary with each individual steward. With those whose means are limited or on fixed income, the portion of that income which is returned to the work of God will be a comparatively small amount. In proportional giving, each gives according to his or her means. The Old Testament tithe began that practice. 10% of income was to be given back to God. Ten percent of a small amount among the poorer would, of course, be a smaller amount when compared to that which was expected from those with greater resources.

But it is not the size of the amount given that makes the offering acceptable to God. It is, rather, the purpose of the heart, the spirit of gratitude and love that it expresses. Those whose means are small should not think that their small gifts are unworthy of notice. All give according to their means, giving thanks to God for all of the gifts that He has abundantly showered on us. God will accept the gifts of all, rich or poor. Those to whom God has entrusted a large portion of income will not, if they love and fear God, find it a burden to return a larger portion to Him.

Everyone is tempted to indulge in selfishness and greediness – that is, to withhold from God what is His own. Will a man rob God? Not if that man, in proportion to His means, in faith and love returns to God that which belongs to God.

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

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