On Stewardship and the Orthodox Life - Part 20: The Loyalty Test II

“On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper…” (1 Corinthians 16:2)

We in the Holy Orthodox Church are New Testament people who enjoy the great abundance of material and spiritual gifts provided by our Lord God through the giving of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Among the people of the Old Testament Law, the test of loyalty to God was the tithe: each had to return to God 10% of his or her income each year to God, or face expulsion from the community.

 What is the test of gratitude and loyalty now? The New Testament nowhere commands, or even recommends, that Christians submit to a required tithe system. The New Testament nowhere designates a percentage of income a person should set aside, but only says gifts should be in keeping with income: On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper…” (1 Corinthians 16:2). Some in the Christian church have taken the 10 percent figure from the Old Testament tithe and applied it as a “recommended minimum” for Christians in their giving.

The New Testament talks about the importance and benefits of giving. We are to give as we are able. Sometimes that means giving more than 10 percent; sometimes that may mean giving less. It all depends on the ability of the Christian and the needs of the Church. Every Christian should diligently pray and seek God’s wisdom in the matter of participating in tithing and/or how much to give. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives to all men generously and without reproaching, and it will be given him” (James 1:5).

 Above all, all tithes and offerings should be given with pure motives and an attitude of worship to God and service to the body of Christ. “Each one must do as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). Cheerful giving – here is the loyalty test that challenges Orthodox believers today. In response to God’s giving us all we need for this life and the next, we respond by cheerfully giving back to Him from our time, our talent and our treasure! We know this life is simply a preparation for the next. We know that what we have to give back cheerfully never was ours in the first place.

Cheerfully giving back is the loyalty test anyone can easily pass.

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

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