On Stewardship and theStewardship and the Orthodox Life - Part 132: Do You Have Enough Chips? (2/5/17)

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is a gift from God-not because of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9 RSV)

There are some people in the Orthodox Church, as well as other Christian denominations, that believe you can buy your way to salvation, by saving up “chips.” In other words, by making considerable contributions to the church or charities, working fundraisers, teaching classes, taking classes, going on pilgrimages, etc., so that we are “members in good standing” in the parish. It is as if people believe that they are storing up “religious chips” that they can cash in at the end of life. The truth is as Paul states above; there is nothing we can do.

We cannot buy our way into the Kingdom of God. There is no ticket that we can purchase by human effort. We need to understand what salvation is and what is expected of us. The Lord asks us not to be pretty good or even very good but to be, “perfect as God the Father is perfect.” We do those things stated above not to build chips to cash in but to show gratitude for what God has done for us. We don’t just offer a little, what is left over after we take what we want, but to offer Him everything! We don’t do this because we feel we are obligated to pay Him back, we can never repay Him for what He has done for us. We do it because once we experience God. He becomes our whole life and we want to do anything and everything for Him. We give back to Him our time, talents and treasure saying, “thank you for the wonderful gift of salvation.”

At the same time, as Fr. Andrew Damick states in his blog Roads from Emmaus, “When we come to pray; when we fall on our faces before God; when we sacrifice our time, our abilities, and our resources...when we change our whole lives, bit by bit, so that it is defined by the rhythms of Church life and not secular pursuits, than what we are doing is cooperating with divine grace.” When we don’t do those things stated above and for the right reason, we are not cooperating with divine grace. Divine grace is what heals us and is critical for our salvation.

Give your time, talents and treasure and for the right reasons; to show gratitude to God for all that we have and to cooperate with His divine grace. Being a member in good standing in a parish does not necessarily mean you are a member in good standing in the Kingdom of Heaven. There is a price to pay. As Fr. Damick points out, “Being here and being engaged costs something. It will cost time. It will cost you your money. It will cost you your talents. It will cost you your prestige. It will cost you your comfort. It will cost you your convenience. It will cost you your life. But it will gain you not only life in eternity but an earthly life marked by eternity.”

 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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