On Stewardship and the Orthodox Life - Part 111: What do I have to Give? (9/11/16)
“If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:3 RSV)
As Orthodox Christians, we ought to believe that God has given us everything we have. God, after all, has created everything, “The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof.” (Psalms 24: 1 RSV).
As Orthodox Christians, if we practice good stewardship, we return to God in proportion to what He has given us. Said in another way, we are giving back to God part or a portion of what He has given us. But what do we have that we can give to God?
Princess Ileana of Romania, Mother Alexandra, had a prayer that she recited on Sunday evenings which ended, “...nothing have I to give to thee, for all I have has come of Thee: only my love is mine to give or to withhold.” What a beautiful thought. Only my love is mine to give to you my God for all else that I have comes from You and belongs to You.
We read in Galatians 5: 12, “But the fruit of the Holy Spirit is love....” Love is the greatest of the virtues. If we love somebody we should also wish to help that person, give to them of the time, talents and treasure that God has given to us on loan. When we comprehend that “all I have has come from Thee” then we may truly give out of love.
When we give as stewards of what God has given us, let's not give out of social obligation, habit, or peer pressure. If we do not give out of love, with our hearts, then we expect something in return. Maybe that is what Jesus meant when, talking to the Pharisees, He quoted Isaiah 29: 13, “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.”
Give your time, talent and treasure with your heart, out of love for your God. What Mother Alexandra prayed is a reality: because all belongs to God, then the only thing you own and can give to God is your love.
This weekly series of brief thoughts on stewardship and Orthodox life is brought to you by your Diocesan Stewardship Commission.
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