On Stewardship and the Orthodox Life - Part 45: What Must I Do?

“… (and) he fell down before Paul and Silas, … and said, "Men, what must I do to be saved?" (Acts 16:30 RSV)

The Philippi jailer asked Paul and Silas the very question that is almost always present to each of us: “What must I do to be saved?” When Jesus was asked this question by the rich young ruler, His answer was simple: keep the commandments and you will be saved. That young man seemed to think he had fulfilled all of his obligations. He had kept the commandments. But then he walked away – Jesus required one thing further: sell his possessions and follow Him.

It is said the young man was “possessed by his possessions.” Yet aren’t we all. Just look at our monthly budgets: mortgage, car payment, insurance, household expenses, school bills, etc. Do we think our possessions possess us? For many households, the end of the month is a clear reminder about all of our stuff. All this before we even think about vacation expenses, that new car, and the cost of electronic media: cable or dish TV, smartphone, ipad, computer – and on it goes.

What must I do? Sell all my possessions and follow Christ? The answer seems to be in the order that we are instructed to carry out His command. Suppose we reverse the order: follow Christ and then sell all possessions? Following Christ is the operative phrase here. Because when we follow Christ, our view of possessions changes. When we follow Christ, we see that our possessions do not nor cannot possess us. Only Christ can possess us, and then we see that the possessions that before were so dear to us, don’t belong to us at all – they belong to Christ!

Our Orthodox understanding of stewardship begins with the fact that God made us and all we own. We are His and His alone. All we do here on our short earthly pilgrimage is borrow what we need for the journey. Our needs should be simple. Our possessions should be spare. Backpackers who pack for a long hike don’t bring along anything more than what they need. They survive their journey because they are under the supervision, in most cases, of an experienced backpacker who can tell those readying themselves for the trip what is needed and what is not.

So the question remains, “What must I do to be saved?” What must I do? Follow Christ. Leave unneeded possessions behind. The hike is underway – did you pack what you need, or are you overburdened with what you want?

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

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