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

“God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7 RSV)

Cheerful giving – here is the loyalty test that challenges Orthodox believers today. The New Testament teaches us to give voluntarily to support the needs of others. The community in the Book of the Acts of the Apostles set the standard very high: “And all who believed were together and had all things in common; and they sold their possessions and goods and distributed them to all, as any had need.” (Acts 2:45). The churches of Greece in St. Paul’s day provided a large offering for the needs of the Jerusalem church. The Saint writes: “I am going to Jerusalem with aid for the saints. For Macedo'nia and Acha'ia have been pleased to make some contribution for the poor among the saints at Jerusalem” (Romans 15:25-26).

Cheerful giving provided support for Church workers in the expansion of mission outreach. St. Paul again to the church in Philippi: And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, (you) entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving … for even in Thessalonica you sent me help once and again” (Philippians 4:15-16).  

No specific amount of giving is ever commanded, and no percentage is suggested. While a tithe or tenth of one’s finances may be a good standard to use for Christian giving, it is clear the early church did not focus on a specific amount but rather on meeting needs.

This sometimes included giving much more than a tenth, as some believers sold homes or land to meet the needs that existed in the church: “And with great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles' feet; and distribution was made to each as any had need. Thus Joseph who was surnamed by the apostles Barnabas (which eans, Son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, sold a field which belonged to him, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles' feet” (Acts 4:33-37).

 God’s gifts to us now are no less than the gifts that were abundantly showered on Adam and Eve in the Garden. Those gifts are no less abundant that the gifts that God provided for His people Israel in the Promised land flowing with milk and honey. God’s gifts today flow upon us all. Take the test of loyalty to our God. The test is simple. It goes like this: “God loves a cheerful giver.”

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

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