On Stewardship and the Orthodox Life - Part 31: For Value Received

“This is the way God loved the world: He gave His only Son…” (John 3:16)

The story is told of an Annual Meeting held at a local Orthodox parish church. The parish stewardship committee made a presentation to that meeting emphasizing what the committee called “proportional giving.” Readers of this blog may recall the definition of “proportional giving” (see #24): Proportional giving is the amount of time and money that each will offer to God through His Church. The exact amount of that giving will, of course, vary with each individual steward. With those whose means are limited or on fixed income, the portion of that income which is returned to the work of God will be a comparatively small amount. In proportional giving, each gives according to his or her means.

As the discussion of the Annual Meeting proceeded, one gentleman stood up to talk. “I have not given anything to the church for years. I have expenses for my family as well as personal needs that must be cared for. If there was anything left over, I would give it gladly!” Another member responded: “You are a businessman, aren’t you?” “Yes,” the first speaker answered, “and a successful one at that!” “Well then,” continued to second speaker, “you understand the business principal of exchange for value received?”

 “Well, of course,” responded the first. “The services of my firm are charged at a rate that equals the value of the service we render – no more, no less! I don’t overcharge, nor do I provide services that are not valuable.”

“O.K.,” answered the second speaker. “Now tell me this, how valuable to you and to your family are the services you receive from this parish: from the priest, at Divine Liturgy, from others in this parish? How valuable to you is that guardian angel who is with you day and night? How valuable are the prayers said on your behalf by all the people gathered here? How valuable…?”

The first man found himself speechless. He thought for a moment and then, with a surprised and satisfied look on his face he announced, “Right now, I will write out a check to the church. For value received: $100.”

 “Is that the right way to respond to that which you have received from God?” the second man asked. “Does the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ which has given you eternal life have the value to you of $100? If not, of what value is it?” The first speaker was smitten to the heart. He sat down and said nothing further.

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

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