On Stewardship and the Orthodox Life - Part 147: The Biblical connotation of Stewardship (5/21/17)

“Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How are we robbing thee?’ In your tithes and offerings.” (Malachi 3:8 RSV)

 In 2010, the Diocesan Stewardship Commission after much research provided the Diocese with a true Biblical connotation of Stewardship which reads:

“Orthodox Christian Stewardship is a Christ-centered lifestyle, which acknowledges accountability, reverence, and responsibility before God. Orthodox Christian Stewardship is a call to all of the faithful to share willingly and cheerfully the gifts that God has bestowed on them including sharing these gifts for God’s work in His Church.”

What a wonderful definition of Stewardship.  And although this definition has been circulating through the Diocese for almost seven years now we find that when the word “stewardship” is brought up, most people immediately fall back on the Western Christian concept of “MONEY.”  Where in the Commission’s definition do you see, “give us money.”  What it says is to center your life around Christ, put Him first, before all things.  Don’t just give Christ an hour or two on Sunday or a Feast Day and then go back to your secular lives forgetting what you just heard and experienced in the Liturgy.

Accountability, reverence, and responsibility; what in the world does that mean?  It means that the way you live your life will be accountable to God at the awesome judgment seat!  You ask for a good accounting at that awesome judgment seat every Sunday in the Liturgy, that is if you are paying attention.

You are responsible for the gifts that God has given you not to do as you want with them but to use them on your journey to salvation (Theosis) as well as to share with others on their journey.  They are to be used for the glory of God, not for your personal comfort.  You are responsible for using the time and talents He has given you to help others by teaching adult classes, youth ministry, Sunday school, active in prayer groups as well as Bible discussion groups.  You are expected to welcome visitors and strangers into the church, make them feel wanted and at home so that the Holy Spirit might work in them.  You are admonished to provide financial support to your parish for operating expenses as well as Orthodox Outreach to the community.

The Church is not a place you come just to be enriched, partaking of the Body and Blood of Our Savior, and then go home to your secular life and comforts.  You made a covenant with God when you were Baptized, and you recommit to this covenant each time you enter the Church and cross yourself.  That covenant was to be a member of the body of Christ, the Church.  That commitment is to do EVERYTHING within your power to help the Church and each and every member of the church.  It takes work: it takes PARTICIPATION.  There is that word again, participation, “being in communion.”

You are to do this willingly and cheerfully for God loves a cheerful giver!  Folks, your salvation is in the balance here.  The Commission states that “Stewardship is a Way of Life.”  That sums it all up, it can also have a subtitle, “Stewardship is a Way of Salvation.”  If you are not giving in proportion to what you have received for the glory of God and the service of your neighbor, then you are not following Christ’s new commandment, (John 13:34), “to love your neighbor as I have loved you.”  If you are not practicing the commandments, then your salvation is in jeopardy.

If you can’t remember the beautiful, Biblical definition of Stewardship that the Commission wrote, Bill Marianes, GOA, summed it up this way, “What are you doing with the gifts that God has given you?”  Are you using them for the glory of God or your comforts?

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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