On Stewardship and the Orthodox Life - Part 122: What Are Your Gifts For? (11/27/16)
“And His gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelist, some pastors and some teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:11-12 RSV)
Paul is very clear that the gifts that God gives us are for the “ministry, for the building of the body of Christ.” And you thought that the gifts God gave you were so you could live comfortably, WRONG!
You see, brothers and sisters in Christ, our purpose in life, the time God gives us, is to seek eternal salvation, continual communion with God, THEOSIS! The gifts he gives us is so that we may lead others to salvation, to build the body of Christ in numbers and maturity.
As the above passage states, we all have different gifts that God has given us. Many times Orthodox Christians are afraid or don’t know how to use those gifts.
Evangelizing is what the church is about. Christ gave the Great Commission to the first church, the seventy, when He said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you and behold, I am with you always, to the close of the age.” WOW! Do we as Orthodox Christian obey His command? Are we afraid to talk about our faith to others?
Sadly, most Orthodox shy away from spreading the word, leaving it up to the priest. That’s it, it is the priest’s job not mine! Again, WRONG! It is your calling to evangelize, to use your time - all of your time - in the service of God giving witness and light to your neighbor, leading them to His Holy Church.
Your gifts are precious, your time is precious, use it to serve our Lord as He commanded and bring others to salvation. Minister to those in need and build the body of Christ.
“But give for alms those things that are within; and behold, everything is clean for you.” (Luke 11:41 RSV)
The above verse deals with Jesus scolding the Pharisees who complained that Jesus did not wash his hands before eating which was the Jewish custom. Jesus calls them “fools” because they did not understand that God made us wholly - within and outwardly. What did he mean? The Pharisees put on an outward show of piety but were dead on the inside.
Do we imitate the Pharisees? Do we say we love Christ and our neighbor but do nothing to help them, standing idly by as they slip deeper into secularism and sin? Where is the almsgiving that we promised to give to our neighbors?
Almsgiving, eleemosune in Greek, means mercy, pity, charity, to show one’s compassion. Do we take the time to help our neighbor, show compassion and be charitable? Giving alms is not just about money, it is about taking the time to care about your neighbor, being a steward of the gift of time God has given you. Unfortunately, many of us are preoccupied - with watching our favorite TV program, sporting event or other secular activities - and fail to give time to save another’s soul.
Those precious few minutes, hours or days that you give to someone in need may show them the true nature of God within you and be the spark that brings them to Christ and Orthodoxy. God gave you the gift of time not to squander but to use for the benefit of your salvation and the salvation of others. Be a good steward of your time and give the alms that are within you!
This weekly series of brief thoughts on stewardship and Orthodox life is brought to you by your Diocesan Stewardship Commission.
Mark Your Calendar Now for the 2nd annual Stewardship Retreat will be held September 22-24, 2017.
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