On Stewardship and the Orthodox Life - Part 7: On Selfishness

“You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48 RSV)

Human beings belong to one great family, the family of God. The Creator designed that they should respect and love one another, showing forth a pure, unselfish interest in one another’s welfare. But from the very beginning, it has be Satan’s aim to lead human beings to self first. And, ever since that first temptation led to that first sin, human beings have yielded themselves to Satan’s control. They have developed a selfishness that has filled the world with misery and strife, setting up human beings one against another.

Selfishness is the essence of sin. Because human beings have yielded themselves to selfishness, the very opposite to faithfulness to God is rampant in our world. It always has been. Nations, ethnic groups, individuals and families are filled with a desire to make self the center. One seeks to rule over another. Each act as if the good of others is totally dependent on the other’s subjection to his supremacy.

Selfishness has brought discord into the Church, filling individuals with ambition and self-love. That self-love is blind to the perfection that Christ requires: “You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Christ came into this world to reveal the love of God. His followers are to continue in the work which He began. Seeking the good of others is the primary way in which true perfection can be found. Christ Himself demonstrated this at the Cross.

The more unselfish a person is, the happier he is. That is because he is fulfilling God’s purpose for him. To such a person, life becomes a sacred trust. It is given as a gift to be cared for and given back. Life is precious in the sight of the unselfish because life is seen as given by God to be spent in ministering to others. Such is the start and the completion of good stewardship.

Orthodox Christians act not in the spirit of self-centeredness, but in the fixed example of Christ: self-denial and self-sacrifice. Partaking with Him in this life of sacrifice for the sake of others, we share with Him the very nature of God Himself. And is this not the very essence of the Orthodox teaching of Theosis – returning to the state we were in creation before selfishness ever entered the world.

This weekly series of brief thoughts on stewardship and Orthodox life is brought to you by your Diocesan Stewardship Commission.

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