On Stewardship and the Orthodox Life - Part 55: “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:36 RSV)

We cannot deny that we are a blessed people. So many of us have comfortable homes, a regular income, the continued miracle of the supply of power to operate our automobiles as well as keep our homes cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Food is available to us by the truckload from our local groceries. These are wonderful blessings from God for which we are to be forever truly thankful.

There are two reasons for God to continue to grant His blessings to us. The first reason is that we may grant the same blessings to others who are in need of them. The second reason is that we might grow in in our likeness to God Himself, the very image and likeness in which we were created.

 It is as if, when we pray in the prayer our Lord taught us, “Give us this day our daily bread,” God looks right into our hearts to see if we will grant the same daily bread to others more needy than we. Likewise when we pray “God be merciful to me a sinner,” God watches to see if we will show mercy and compassion to those with whom we come into contact.

Such is the evidence of our connection to God: Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. We will act as God would with a cheerful and loving heart. We will do as God bids us to do, no matter how inconvenient or no matter how it goes against how we are feeling at the moment.

This is the way God develops what some might call our Christian character. We Orthodox call it theosis, the process by which we return to the very way God created us, in His image and likeness.  It is for our good, and for the sake of our eternal salvation that God has called us to practice self-denial, to bear the Cross of Christ, to sacrifice in seeking to save that which is lost.

Thus our efforts to bless others are not only the means of our own growth in grace, such efforts have a direct bearing on our eternal salvation. To those who have been faithful and true in their efforts to become as God has revealed Himself in Christ; to those who have become co-workers with Christ Himself in the Kingdom of God; to those who have taken their talents and made good use of them, it will be said: “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master” (Matthew 25:21, 23 RSV)

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

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