On Stewardship and the Orthodox Life - Part 109: How Are We Judged?

“for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” (John 12: 43 RSV)

The secular world judges us in many ways.  Our managers at work judge and evaluate us on performance; our families judge us on our success; and we judge ourselves by how successful we are, by our accumulated wealth, by how many things we possess or, maybe even, the number of friends who see life the way we do. We define ourselves by cars, houses, boats, and money in the bank.  I am sure you have heard the mantra, “He who has the most toys, wins!”  How many times have you seen somebody drive-by in a new Mercedes and think: "Wow, that person is successful!"

There is nothing wrong with material success is this world.  God has never objected to us having material things which come from the fruits of our labor.  Indeed, the Holy Fathers tell us that having material things is not evil. But having the material things simply for the sake of possessing them is wrong. 

God gives us all that we have so that we might "use" our wealth, but never to hoard.  I don't know about you, but I have never seen a U-Haul truck filled with earthly possessions awaiting burial with someone. That Mercedes is not going to your tomb so that you may drive it in heaven!

On the contrary, all of our possessions are on "loan" from God.  Possessing or loving something so much that you could not part with it is a sin.  Christianity, as practiced in the early church, included generosity.  Those Christians that were closest to Christ shared in gratitude their time, talents and resources with the Christian Community.

The secular world drives us to believe that wealth is the barometer on which we are judged and praised.  However, as Christians, generosity and gratitude are the metrics by which God will judge us.  Do we spend our time in the service of God and our community?  Do we use the skills that God has given us for Him and the service of His community?   How much of our time do we spend in providing support to the various ministries of the church?

A mantra that one hears is, “I would rather be judged by 12 than be carried by six!” Know that you will be carried by six, only if you are blessed! 

The Christians mantra should be: “I pray to be judged by God for the generosity and gratitude I have given to His Church and community than be judged by the secular world as to how much wealth I have accumulated.”  Being judged by this secular world in which we live is ephemeral. Being judged by God is eternal!

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

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