On Stewardship and the Orthodox Life - Part 82: Count The Cost

“(Hannah) was deeply distressed and prayed to the LORD, and wept bitterly. And she vowed a vow… (1 Samuel 1:10-11 RSV)

Jesus reminds his followers that it is always necessary to “count the cost.” Listen to His words: “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?” (Luke 14:28 RSV). Good stewards understand what it costs to be good stewards. Hannah, mother of the Holy Prophet Samuel, also knew what it costs to be a good steward.

Hannah was without children. This was a source of not only personal sorrow for her, but also a cause for others to mock her childlessness. It was not socially acceptable in those days for a married woman to be childless. So Hannah prayed fervently to the Lord for a child. So fervent were her prayers, that those prayers included a vow, a promise that Hannah would keep in exchange for a child. And what was that promise she made to God? She promised God that she would dedicate her child to the Lord’s service. In time God granted Hannah’s prayer. She bore a son whose name was Samuel.

Hannah then kept her part of the bargain. Hannah counted the cost and completed what she had vowed to do. She offered her only son to the God who had given him to her in the first place.

It seems that most parents sacrifice their children so some god or another. Would that we faithful stewards offer our children to the God to Whom they belong anyway. Would it not be better to offer our children to a life of service to God and His Church than to try and nurture them in the ways of this world – the ways of materialistic buying and selling? Hannah recognized in what had to have been a very emotional moment, the truth that David the Psalmist would later write: “For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness” (Psalm 84:10 RSV).

Good stewards count the cost of their stewardship and then make a response in faith. That stewardship includes much more than what we do or don’t do with our money. Faithful parents who are also good stewards know that their children, though generated by them, do not belong to them. Their children are gifts of God that are to be cherished, nurtured, cared for, and brought up in the fear of the Lord.

God offers us children with the knowledge that we will give them back to Him.

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

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