On Stewardship and the Orthodox Life - Part 144: Gratitude (4/30/17)

“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed, perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down but not destroyed; always carrying in the body of the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies” (2 Corinthians 4:5 RSV)

 We are all intoxicated with opportunities and commitments, usually self-imposed, that fill up our life with distractions that keep us from the one true purpose in our life: to know God.  We are bombarded daily with advertisements, commercials, newspaper articles and radio spots that tell us we should go here/do this/we owe ourselves/you can’t do without this/you must attend this/you must buy this.  We become distracted; our attention is focused not on our true purpose but ephemeral desires.

Once our attention is distracted from God, we forget that we are made in His image.  We forget about seeking His likeness and turn more to worldly pursuits using our God-given talents and gifts for our self-centered desires.  Fr. Barnabas Powell, GOA, once wrote, “When I forget that my life is a gift, my abilities are gifts, and my world is a gift, I start forgetting my dependence on God for my very breath.”

Forgetfulness makes us ungrateful.  When we become ungrateful for the gifts God has given us, we begin to think we can rely on ourselves.  We begin to think that we are enough, we need no help.  I might ask at this point, “How is that working out for you?”  Some may say that it is working just fine, I have new cars, big house, boats, belong to the country club and move in the top social circles. Throughout the ages, people believe that you are in “good graces’ if God has bestowed upon you wealth and luxury.  I have even heard people say in those situations, “I am blessed”.  I am happy for you if you enjoy that circumstance, but what about eternity?

God has given you that wealth and luxury but what have you done to show your gratitude to God for being so gifted?  Those talents that God gave you that you might use to accumulate wealth and luxury, how are you using them to help the Church, the needy, the homeless, the naked, the thirsty (Matthew 25: 31-46).  Christ destroyed “death by death” so all of our excuses, distractions, forgetfulness are powerless to hold us.  They do so only because we allow them to.  The choice remains yours!

 Show your gratitude to God for all He has gifted you that you hear Him say, “Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the worlds; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me…….Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these, you did it to me.”

 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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