On Stewardship and the Orthodox Life -The Loyalty Test I

“Every tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the trees, is the LORD’s; it is holy to the Lord” (Leviticus 27:30)

In the beginning, so are we taught from the Book of Genesis, the Lord God set our first parents in the Garden of Eden. He surrounded them with everything they needed for their happiness and contentment. In that very garden, the same Lord God showed that He was the possessor of all things. He caused every tree that was pleasant to the eye to grow and provide good food. But among all the trees, God made one stand out from others. Of all the trees, Adam and Eve may eat, but of the One Tree, God said, “You shall not eat from it.” Here was the test of their gratitude and loyalty to God.

When the Law of God came to Moses, the same Lord God provided a way for His people to acknowledge Him as that Giver of all good things. God says, “Every tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the trees, is the LORD’s; it is holy to the Lord” (Leviticus 27:30). And, “the people of Israel gave in abundance the firstfruits of grain, wine, oil, honey, and of all the produce of the field. And they brought in abundantly the tithe of everything” (4 Kings 31:5). For His Old Testament people, God laid down the law of the tithe – one tenth of all that was received by God’s people during the year was to be returned to the owner of all good things, God Himself. Here was a test of their gratitude and loyalty to God.

For you and me, the same Lord God has given to us His richest treasure in the gift of His Son Jesus Christ. In Christ has come God’s plan for our salvation. In Christ has come the Church with all the means provided to gain salvation. With Jesus Christ, our Lord, God has gone even further. He has given to us all things to enjoy. The produce of the earth, the bountiful harvest, the treasures of gold and silver – all are His gifts. Houses and land, food and clothing – all this God has placed in our possession. He asks us to acknowledge Him as the Giver of all good things. This is our test of gratitude and loyalty to God.

As New Testament people who enjoy the great abundance of these material and spiritual gifts, how do we pass this test of gratitude and loyalty now? The tithe was the Old Testament requirement. There was no refusal on the part of God’s Old Testament people. The legal test was there. It was 10% returned, or one faced expulsion from the community. Under the New Testament Law of Love, how do we respond?

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

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