On Stewardship and the Orthodox Life - Part 152: Bad Excuses (6/25/17)

"Honor the Lord with your substances and with the first fruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.” (Proverbs 3: 9-10 RSV)

We tend to shy away from a discussion involving money when it comes to stewardship.  The reason lies in the fact that the Western church has put such an emphasis on it in America that even the Orthodox Church has adopted the “westernization of stewardship.”  We have tried very hard to present the true biblical connotation of stewardship through the Diocesan Stewardship Commission.   Stewardship of your treasure/wealth is an important factor in the church.  Without it, the church cannot pay the mortgage, priest salary, utilities and most importantly, outreach efforts.

Excuses for not giving in proportions to what God has given to you are usually based on the misunderstanding of scriptures and misunderstanding their church.

There are five bad excuses for not giving to the church.  First, “God doesn’t tell us to give!”  What?  The scriptures are full of verses about generosity, look at Proverbs 3:9 or 1 Timothy 6: 17-19 and then try to use the excuse that God does not tell us to give.

I hear the next excuse all the time, “I don’t make enough money.”  Did you ever notice that there is no “exclusion clause” in the scriptures!  Show me where it says that if you don’t make enough money, you are excluded from giving to God.  Read Luke 21: 1-4, where Christ commends the poor woman for giving in poverty and not of surplus.

Next is the excuse that “I am in debt.”  Remember you made the choices to put yourself in that position through your self-centered desires and although you should meet the obligations you committed yourself to, do not make the mistake of not giving to God in gratitude for what He has already given you.

The fourth excuse is a dandy.  This one states, “My money won’t make a difference!”  You feel that your contribution is too small to have an impact.  NONSENSE!  It is amazing what God can do when a lot of people contribute a small amount in cheerfulness and gratitude.  That small amount helps pay the priest who administers the sacraments, helps counsel and mend marriages, counsel those addicted, feeds the poor and all because you gave!

And final we get the granddaddy of all excuses, “I know how to manage money better than the church.”  Everybody is a financial whiz, how is that working for you?  Have you taken the time to talk to your priest about how the money is spent and what impact it has in the parish?  Have you taken the time to get involved with the parish and help impact the lives of others without being critical of everything that is being done?  Have you tried to work in the church without being sensitive to who gets credit for successes or initiatives?

If you are not giving to God (the Church) in proportion to what He has given you as the first fruits of what He has given you then you need to reread the scriptures and talk to your priest about how this may affect your salvation.  Be a servant steward for our Lord.

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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