Friday, December 10, 2010

On Christian Stewardship VI

Dear Parish Faithful,

Here is the sixth meditation from Fr. Stanley Harakas on Christian Stewardship:

Give, trusting that God will multiply (II COR. 9:10). Among the practices which some of the excellent, contemporary, charitable organizations, such as the International Orthodox Christian Charities, follow is giving to build greater self-sufficiency, "getting the destitute on their feet." The Apostle speaks of Godly giving as having its source in God Who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food. There are some needs, however, brought about by overwhelming events such as drought, famine, and war, which require us to supply basic seed and food, knowing and trusting that God will "increase the fruits of [our] righteousness."

The first part of this commentary connects stewardship as giving with trust that God brings the giving to fruition. We do a small part, and God through his grace multiplies the small measure of our giving. As the Parable of the Sower puts it, "And other seeds fell into good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold" (MK. 4:8). An ethical implication of this affirmation is that the Christian steward cannot assess his or her giving in a prideful manner. God gave the resources to begin with; our giving is only proportionate to what we have been given and it bears fruit not because of us but because of what others do with it, most of all, God. So givings should be a humbling experience, not a prideful one. Thus, the source of any righteousness that comes from giving is the grace of God; our righteousness is always contingent and always short of purity an fullness. Part of the increase is its association with the giving of others. The parish as an agent for the use of stewardship contributions, as well as church and other philanthropic organizations, do, indeed, multiply the effects of individual stewardship. Thus, stewardship is a corporate act, not individualistic.

Fr. Steven

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