On Stewardship and the Orthodox Life - Part 131: Spiritual Cowardice (1/29/17)

“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If it is to be life in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me.” (Philippians 1:22 RSV)

 Can we really say this as Paul did? “Do we believe what he said above?”  Or, do we make excuses: ‘I am not an Apostle so it doesn’t work that way for me’or ‘Paul had a vision of Christ but I never have, so how do you expect me to live that way?’  What is your excuse?  

The reality is most of us are spiritual cowards and find some excuse not to live by those words that Paul uttered in Philippians.  We like and crave the elf-centered life we live here on earth.  Paul is torn between being with God in His heavenly kingdom or continuing the fruitful labor he was given here on earth.  God endowed Paul with special skills and gifts, as He has all of us, to do His work here on earth.  These skills and abilities are to prepare US and to show others the way!  By fruitful labor here on earth, we are fulfilling Christ commandments to love him and to love our neighbor.

Paul was facing physical death like all of us will eventually experience.  But Paul knew that only his physical body would die but he would live in his spiritual body until the second coming.  He states in the later part of Philippians Chapter 1, “My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.”  But, he admonishes the Philippians to, “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ………and not be frightened in anything.”

Is your life being lived in a manner that is worthy of the gospel of Christ?  Are you using the time, talents and treasures that God has given you to benefit the less fortunate?  Only you can answer that question.  Only you and God know the answer.  If you honestly answer “NO!”, then start today.  Give your time, talent and treasure to God through the church that others may be saved.  If your answer is “YES!”, God bless you for doing God’s work!

As you ponder the passage above, pray that God will give you the grace of the mindfulness of death.  Archimandrite Zaccharias in his book, Man, the Target of God, states that through this grace “suddenly, man awakes out of his age-old stupor.  He perceives that God’s eternity summons him from every side.”  Use what God has given you to awaken you and open your heart and to touch the heart of others.

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

Mark Your Calendar Now for the 2nd annual Stewardship Retreat will be held September 22-24, 2017.

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