On Stewardship and the Orthodox Life - Part 9: A Simple Plan – Part 2

“From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the LORD of hosts. But you say, `How shall we return?' Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, `How are we robbing thee?' In your tithes and offerings. … Bring the full tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house….” (Malachi 3:7-10 RSV)

The Biblical system of returning to God 10% of all that has been received from Him is called the “tithe.” In carrying out this plan, an excellent goal for personal stewardship, the actual amount given will vary from person to person. As each person’s income is different, so the tithe for each would be different. This is known in “stewardship-speak” as proportional giving. Each gives in proportion to that which each person has received; that proportion is 10%.

If someone is poor, or on fixed income, the tithe may be a comparatively small one. Each gives according to his or her own ability. But it is not the size or greatness of the gift that makes the offering acceptable to God. It is, rather, the spirit in which the tithe is given, the gratitude and love that it expresses. Thus the gifts of the poor or the very young should not be made to feel as if their gifts are so small as to not be worthy of notice. Everyone gives according to his or her ability. After all, everyone is a servant of God. Everyone has received something from God. When that tithe is returned according to God’s Biblical plan, that offering, as meager or as great as it may be, is wholly acceptable to God.

On the other hand, the one to whom God has entrusted a large amount of income, investments, inheritance or just abundant blessings should surely not be burdened by the plan to tithe. However, the reality of this world seems to be that the more one receives the more one is tempted to selfishness, to materialism, to acquisitiveness (the need to have more and more…) and to withhold from God that which is God’s own.

God’s Old Testmant people were sternly asked by the Prophet, “Will a man rob God?” How can humans rob God? The Prophet also gives the answer, “In your tithes and offerings.” God’s plan is simple and within the reach of everyone. Young or old. Rich or poor. Everyone.

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

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