On Stewardship and the Orthodox Life - Part 26: The First Day – The First Fruits
“On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper…” (1 Corinthians 16:2)
The Holy Apostle Paul was the chief pastor of many churches. His church in the Greek town of Corinth was given specific direction on how to provide for the needs of the Church. It is simple. It is clear. It is full of meaning: “On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper…”
“On the first day of every week.” To what is the Holy Apostle referring? He was, of course, referring to Sunday, the Lord’s day, the weekly commemoration of the Holy Resurrection of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ. What more appropriate time could be chosen for setting aside and presenting our offerings to God? On Sunday we celebrate the Divine Liturgy of the Resurrection – every Sunday! We are reminded each Sunday of the great work of God for our salvation. Our hearts soar up to Him in thanksgiving for the life given to us through the raising of His Son. And on that day, before the work begins of another week, we return to God what is His own. And in that offering of our hard-earned money, comes a tangible, a real, show of our thanksgiving.
It is the usual practice for an Orthodox priest to give a sermon at the Sunday Divine Liturgy. The offering of the people is their own kind of sermon. This “people’s sermon” becomes a weekly declaration that God is the true possessor of all of our property. Our offering is a formal way to say that God has made us stewards of all His creation, and we are to use that which God has given us of His bounty to His glory. And we do so in the midst of the glory of celebrating the Resurrection of Christ!
“…each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper.” This matter of giving is not a matter of sudden impulse. When we make our offering, it is not how much we have left over from the week before; it is not even “How much change have I got with me today?” We do not give what remains of our income after all of our real or imaginary wants are satisfied. We are “to put something aside” is what Paul says. Thus the offering is not the leftovers – it is the planned giving back to God. Many will make the meeting of lesser needs or imaginary wants as the first of their budgeting and leave that which is left over to God – if there is anything left over.
God our Father, provided the first and best He had for us: His own Son whom He raised from the dead for our salvation. Do we in thanksgiving provide the first and best for Him? Or is it the leftovers?
This weekly series of brief thoughts on stewardship and Orthodox life is brought to you by your Diocesan Stewardship Commission.
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