On Stewardship and the Orthodox Life - Part 5: St. Paul on Selfishness
“I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.” (2 Corinthians 8:8-9 RSV)
One quality of life that St. Paul worked hard to uproot was that of selfishness. After all, one cannot be complete in becoming Christ-like (theosis) when self-love and covetousness are held onto. The love of Christ in the hearts of Paul’s rather hard-hearted brethren would go a long way in accomplishing what was needed for the church in Jerusalem. Sections of the Jerusalem church in the first century experienced great poverty. The saints in Jerusalem had so many poor among them, whom they themselves could not help, that St. Paul was eager to help them
By pointing them to the sacrifice of Christ, made on their behalf, St. Paul sought to raise the level of the Corinthians’ love. “I say this not as a command,” said the Saint, “but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.”
Here is the crux of St. Paul’s argument against selfishness. And it is not the commandment of Paul, but of the Lord Jesus Christ. How great was the gift of God to humanity, and how like our God to make it! With a liberality that can never be exceeded God gave, that He might save the rebellious sons of men and bring them to see His purpose and His love. This is the spirit of stewardship. The first great Steward was God Himself. He gave His only-begotten Son to die for those rebellious sons of men. He gave His all. He continues to give His all every time the bloodless Sacrifice is re-enacted on the altar of the Divine Liturgy.
Will we, by our own stewardship of gifts and offerings, show that we think nothing too good for Him who “gave His only-begotten Son”?
This weekly series of brief thoughts on stewardship and Orthodox life is brought to you by your Diocesan Stewardship Commission.
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