On Stewardship and the Orthodox Life - Part 150: Fairness and Credibility (6/11/17)

"I see that your father does not regard me with favor as he did before.  But the God of my father has been with me.  You know that I have served your father with all my strength; yet your father has cheated me and changed my wages ten times, but God has not permitted him to harm me.”.” (Genesis 31: 5-7 RSV)

Jacob was deceived several times by La’ban.  It was not fair how La’ban had treated him yet Jacob persisted until God instructed him to take his wives, children and flocks and leave.  I think that most of us at one time or another and to one degree or another have had something happen to us that was just not fair.  Most of us took it in stride and continued with other lives.  There is an ever increasing movement in this country that there must be an equality of outcomes.  Not that we have to work for them but that they should just be given to us.  And, furthermore, if that does not happen we are justified in doing something radical.

Where do we find in scriptures that life is to be fair?  The reason that injustice and inequality is so prominent today is that the hope of eternal life has been dismissed by the younger generations.  This is a bad theology that the younger generations are developing.  “Moderns” truly believe that “this life is all there is and therefore dismiss the notion of the resurrection of the dead as a myth” states Fr. Barnibus Powell, Ancient Faith Radio.  They want their fair share now, in this one and only life that they believe in.

If this is in essence what the current thought is propagating is it any wonder that stewardship is frowned upon.  I pay my dues, that is all I have to do; I spent one day two months ago helping clean the church; what does the church do with all the money it gets; what does the priest do all day long to deserve that salary.  I did my part let somebody else do theirs.  Is it any wonder than that we have no credibility with our children when it comes to the church and stewardship.

Our actions speak much louder than our words.  We talk a good game about the necessity of church, confession and communion and then miss church because of a football game, fishing trip, golf outing; go to confession and communion once a year.  We complain about fasting periods and homilies being too long.  And all the time our children are watching and learning.

We talk and complain about how unjust life is and that because somebody else has treasure or material things they must be crooked.  They talk about never getting a break in this life and how others were born with a silver spoon in their mouth.  And our children watch and listen.

Is it surprising then that our children leave the church?  They have learned from the parents that life is not fair or just.  The parents make so big a deal out of the materials things of this world is it any wonder that their minds focus on what is in this world.  Why have we taught our children, by example, that inequality has to be solved by us as if there is no God.  We spend our lives in anger and being upset that there is no fairness.  Our children see no joy, peace and happiness in us.  Is that not what we tell our children that God brings to us?

Folks, God has given each of us the gifts that were appropriate to us, what have we done with them?  God watches what injustice happens in this life and He will repay.  We must stand up to tyranny and wrong but not in a way that it is all up to us.  God has blessed all of us richly, no matter how much in poverty we might be.  Let us use those gifts that He has given us for our journey to salvation and for assisting others in their journey and not for teaching our children to worship the things of this world as if God did not exist.  Let us teach our children by example that there is eternal life and by living our lives as Christ has taught us, using the gifts He has given us, putting our trust in Him, eternal life is in our grasp.

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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