Never then let us flee from poverty as an evil, for it is the procurer of heaven. Again, let us never follow riches as a good; for they are the ruin of such as walk unwarily, but in everything directing our eyes to God, let us, as occasion requires, use those gifts which He has vouchsafed us, both strength of body, and abundance of money, and every other gift; for it is unnatural that we, who have our being for Him, should make these things serviceable to others, yet not to Him who has made us He formed thine eye: make it serviceable to Him, not to the devil. But how serviceable to Him? By contemplating His creatures and praising and glorifying Him, and by withdrawing it from all gaze at women. Did He make thy hands? Preserve them for His use, not for the devil, not putting them out for robbery and rapine, but for His commandments and for good deeds, for earnest prayers, for holding out help to the fallen.
14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
When we consider our faith, our works must accompany it. If you have faith, but do not do works, your faith is dead. As we reflect on the Spirituality of Stewardship, consider all of the ways that you can contribute to your works through Time and Talents. Can you help clean the Church after the Liturgy? Can you organize a trip for the young adults to a local monastery? Can your family volunteer for a Habitat project? Can you identify someone in need and purchase/deliver a Thanksgiving meal to them? Small works can have a big impact on you, on those that you serve and on your Salvation. Make the commitment today!
The Stewardship of Spirituality
One area in our lives that requires very serious attention is the passions. These include pride, greed, lust, anger, gluttony, envy and sloth. Our Stewardship relates to how we give of our Time, Talents and Treasures to avoid and defeat these seven grievous sins. Each day we are challenged and each day we must put our pride aside, take less than we need, not desire items that we cannot have, only be angry at the devil, avoid overconsumption (and not just food), not feel animosity when someone else is blessed and not be lazy. This is very difficult but can be overcome with humility, liberality, chastity, mildness, temperance, happiness and diligence. No one said it would be easy, but it is necessary for our Salvation.
But let us not regard only the punishment appointed for him, but let us look to this other point too, lest we ourselves also be unawares to ourselves doing the same things. For to this servant are they like, who have money, and give not to the needy. For thou too art steward of thine own possessions, not less than he who dispenses the alms of the church. As then he has not a right to squander at random and at hazard the things given by you for the poor, since they were given for the maintenance of the poor; even so neither mayest thou squander thine own. For even though thou hast received an inheritance from thy father, and hast in this way all thou possessest: even thus all are God’s.
Tomorrow is the first day of the Ecclesiastical New Year – a time for new beginnings, the return to school and preparation for the Advent season. As I drove with my 90 year old mother yesterday, we reflected on the past, the cold September weather and that the holidays were right around the corner (Christmas ads are out already.) What I also reflected on is this is a time for a new beginning and as Orthodox Christians, we are blessed with this opportunity every day!
This time is also an opportunity to focus on our Spirituality as part of Stewardship. Small changes make a big impact. Consider ways that you and your family can participate. For example, pray together in the morning and evening and include list of those family members and friends that are in need. Read the Scriptures each day. Specific Epistle and Gospel readings are found in the Church calendar. By experiencing the lives of Christ, the Saints and the Apostles, we will understand what it is to live “Christ like” and be better prepared for our daily activities.
As we look forward to the fall months and prepare for the birth of our Savior, let us also consider small changes that will help us become Christ like.
And by this he shows another point also, that to have given alms does not secure its being accepted. For when anyone gives it constrainedly, or out of unjust gains, or for vanity, the fruit of it is gone.
A Steward of God is one who realizes that all is God’s and that the beholder is simply a temporary financial minister. Our conscious must dictate our financial support of our Church. With Stewardship, we must return to God only what is His. We are called upon to be caretakers and stewards of these gifts. “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness hereof.” Stewardship is learning how to be responsible and concerned caretakers of Christ’s Church. It is our active commitment to use all our Time, Talent, and Treasure for the benefit of humankind. Stewardship is caring for the needs of others. Remember your Church and complete your 2015 Stewardship commitment during the beginning of the Ecclesiastical New Year.